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Justice Dept. drops bias suit against lottery


Only two months after filing suit in federal court, the U.S. XTC Justice Department has abandoned a reverse discrimination suit alleging bias against white male employees of the Maryland lottery agency in 1983 and 1984.

Attorneys for the department's civil rights division filed to end the suit Thursday, unilaterally putting an end to a lawsuit that had been denounced by Maryland officials as "an archaeological dig" into a one-time hiring effort that took place more than six years ago.

Thursday's filing came one day before a deadline for the federal government's response to a petition for dismissal or summary judgment filed by state lawyers, according to Dennis M. Sweeney, deputy attorney general for the state.

That petition argued that the lawsuit and a 1985 complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that preceded it were brought too late to satisfy legal requirements for a discrimination action.

The suit stemmed from an action by Gov. Harry R. Hughes, who directed the lottery agency to set aside four senior-level positions for women or members of a racial minority.

Ten white men later complained to the EEOC, which referred the case to the Justice Department in 1988. The suit sought to bar the state from reserving lottery agency positions for women or minorities and sought compensation for white males victimized by any alleged discrimination.

Mr. Sweeney and J. Joseph Curran Jr., Maryland's attorney general, met with Justice Department lawyers two months ago in an unsuccessful effort to discourage the action.

The federal lawyers ignored that initial appeal, but when the state offered the same arguments in court filings, the Justice Department dismissed the suit without comment.

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