Friday, August 13, 2010

Non-Discrimination 101

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 1:27 PM

I don't know about you guys, but this whole non-discrimination issue has had me a little confused. The Memphis City Council is dealing with both an ordinance and a separate resolution pertaining to protection of LGBT workers. The resolution has been postponed, and the ordinance passed its first reading at the council on Tuesday. Confused?

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It's quite different than the way the Shelby County Commission dealt with the issue last year, which was originally through one ordinance that dealt with both county workers and workers employed with companies who contracted with the county. It was later passed as a watered-down resolution that made no mention of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. The city, however, has split the issue into an ordinance that protects city employees and a resolution that protects workers at companies who contract with the city.

Let me break it down:

* The city's non-discrimination ordinance protects only city workers based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Gender expression, by the way, is simply defined as the physical manifestation of one's gender identity. In other words, it could also apply to a straight person who might have characteristics of the opposite sex, like a woman with a short haircut. The ordinance passed on its first reading at the council on Tuesday. It must pass two more readings (Aug. 24th and Sept. 14th) before it becomes city policy.

* The city's non-discrimination resolution offers protection for workers at companies who contract with the city. The resolution was tabled on Tuesday in a city council committee after council person Shea Flinn raised philosophical concerns about governing outside vendors and contractors. It may be discussed again in the Aug. 24th personnel committee meeting.

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