Instead of providing nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Metro Councilman Sam Coleman has filed a bill that would state the government would not discriminate against anyone for “non-merit factors.”
Coleman’s alternative bill will be on first reading at the Aug. 18 Council meeting. At that same meeting, Council will consider a bill on second reading that would make it unlawful to discriminate against Metro workers or those applying for work with the government based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“It’s an alternative we’re trying to give Council to vote on,” Coleman said.
Council appears divided on the nondiscrimination ordinance filed by at-large Councilwoman Megan Barry and co-sponsored by nine other members.
“We don’t want our city or our Council to be divided and it’s time we vote and move on,” Coleman said. “If the city is ready to add a protected class for sexual orientation [and gender identity] then we’ll vote for the Barry option, if not, then we’ll vote for the Coleman option.”
Coleman’s option specifically outlaws discrimination for non-merit factors, which Coleman described as strictly employment performance.
Several Council members have said they don’t agree with creating new protected classes, but also believed no one should be discriminated against for anything besides job performance.
Metro Director of Law Sue Cain penned a brief legal opinion to Coleman’s bill, which said the alternative did not offer protections for Metro workers who faced discrimination.
Barry’s bill would allow Metro employees discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity to file complaints with the Metro Human Relations Commission, which could investigate the claims and seek restitution.
Mayor Karl Dean has already offered his support for the ordinance.