The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold hearings next month to examine equal employment opportunities for minorities and women in the finance industry, marking the agency's first brvad investigation of the industry since its inception m 1957.

The investigation also may include a look at the impact of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's Rule G-37 on minority and women securities professionals, according to a lawyer who may testify at the hearrings.

Hearings are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 19 through 21 in New York City, said' Charles R. Rivera, press chief for the civil rights commission. During the three days, the commission may hold sessions focusing on employment issues affecting minorities and women in the finance industry and on their access to capital, Rivera said.

The New York hearings are part of a multiyear, nationwide investigation by the commission into the resurgence of racial and ethnic tensions in the United States.

The study has included hearings in the District of Columbia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Additional hearings are expected to be held in Miami and somewhere in the Mississippi delta region.

Hearing sites were selected because the agency's eight commissioners believed there was "sufficient evidence these cities are experiencing racial tension," Rivera said.

An examination of the finance industry will be included in the wideranging investigation because the commission decided that economics and economic empowerment should be a focus of the study, Rivera said.

"The commissioners wanted to go beyond looking at discrimination and hiring practices to understand racism and the factors contributing to it," Rivera said.

Alphonso E. Tindall Jr., chairman of the National Association of Securities Professionals, a trade group representing women and minorities, said he has been invited to testify at the hearings. Tindall also is the managing partner of the New York law office of Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffmahn, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel.

Tindall said he plans to discuss why the group believes that Rule G37, which curbs political campaign contributions by municipal finance professionals, has an adverse impact on minorities and women employed in the investment banking industry. The group has been a vocal opponent of a ban since municipal market regulators began discussing the issue in 1993.

Rivera said he could not confirm that the MSRB rule will be discussed during the hearings.

"I can't tell you that," Rivera said, explaining that a final decision on specific hearing topics as well as witnesses has not been made. The commissioners are expected to determine the agenda and witness list for the New York hearings in early September, he said.

Witnesses who appear before the commission will be subpoenaed and will testify under oath. Potential witnesses are expected to include public officials, private citizens, and businessmen, Rivera said.

The September hearings will mark the commission's first broad investigation of the finance industry, but not its first study touching on the industry, Rivera said.

Following a study of the federal government's efforts to end discrimination against minorities in the early 1970s, the commission released a report with findings and recommendations for the Securities and Exchange Commission. The November 1974 report called on the SEC to strengthen its efforts to mandate and enforce equal employment practices for women and minorities in the securities industry.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was created in 1957 to monitor and report on the enforcement of U.S. civil rights laws. Commission reports are forwarded to the president and Congress.

Although the commission has no enforcement authority, its findings have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. Findings and recommendations also have influenced executive orders and led to new legislation or changes in existing legislation.

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