A federal judge says Contra Costa County does not discriminate against women and minority owned businesses when it awards contracts.
Minority business owners and civil rights advocates sued the county in 1998. They said it had done nothing to respond to a 1992 study that found a large portion of county contracts went to companies owned by white males.
The county began granting contract preferences to minorities and women after the study, but abandoned the plan in 1996 upon passage of Proposition 209, which prohibits preferences.
Under the proposition, county departments try to recruit minorities to bid, but give them no preference. Still, Judge William H. Orrick ruled the county could “more aggressively´´ recruit women and minority contractors to bid on projects.