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BLIND SUE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

 BLIND SUE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
 BALTIMORE, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement


released by The National Federal of the Blind:
 On Feb. 28, 1992, Jerry Vaughn, a blind excavation and gravel contractor in northeastern Tennessee, assisted by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), sued the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (Jackson Division) for its refusal to grant him status as a Section 8(a) contractor.
 "The SBA's 8(a) program is designed to assist 'socially and economically disadvantaged' businesspersons by providing set asides from competitive bidding on government contracts for 8(a) contractors," said Marc Maurer, president of the NFB. "Certain ethnic and racial minorities are presumed by statute to be 'socially and economically disadvantaged,' but a person may also receive 8(a) status if he or she can establish to the SBA that he or she has been subjected to prejudice or cultural bias because of his or her identity as a member of a group without regard to individual qualities. The social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond the individual's control," Maurer explained.
 According to NFB officials, Vaughn has been attempting since 1984 to secure 8(a) status and alleges in his complaint that, because he was a white male, SBA officals ignored the overwhelming evidence he submitted establishing that his blindness had subjected him to bias that closed off educational, social, and economic opportunities.
 An investigation by the Office of Civil Rights of the SBA found that the denial of Vaughn's applications had been the result of discrimination and that, while some mobility-impaired individuals had been granted 8(a) status, no blind applicant to the 8(a) program had ever been successful.
 Vaughn and the Federation have alleged violation of his Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection, violation of his rights under the Civil Rights acts and the Rehabilitation Act, as well as violation of his rights under the Administrative Procedure Act. He seeks an injunction directing that he be granted 8(a) status, together with damages and declaratory relief.
 "We believe that this is a clear case of discrimination," Maurer said. "For eight years the SBA has refused to take Jerry Vaughn's case seriously; we intend that they shall do so now."
 -0- 3/5/92
 /CONTACT: Marc Maurer, president of the NFB, 410-659-9314, or Daniel F. Goldstein of Brown, Goldstein & Levy (Vaughn's counsel), 410-962-1030/ CO: The National Federation of the Blind ST: Maryland IN: SU:


CG -- CL010 -- 5489 03/05/92 13:23 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 5, 1992
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