With support building among Metro Council members for a new nondiscrimination policy, which would add sexual orientation as a protected class, one Council member is offering an alternate path to the same goal.
District 4 Councilman Michael Craddock said he preferred mandatory diversity sensitivity training for Metro workers to a nondiscrimination policy that “wouldn’t really accomplish anything but pandering.”
Craddock said he was against discrimination of any sort and added he had even suffered some himself through the years.
“I’ve been picked on since I was a kid because I’m fat,” Craddock said. “I’m against anyone being treated differently for being tall, or short, or skinny or a particular race. Nobody should be treated differently for any reason.”
However, Craddock said he wasn’t inclined to support a nondiscrimination policy, because he viewed education as the key to addressing workplace issues. Craddock said a nondiscrimination policy would be ineffective as a deterrent because Metro was limited in its capacity to punish discrimination to $50 fines.
But at-large Councilwoman Megan Barry, who is pursuing the nondiscrimination policy, has said the time has come to protect “all of our brothers and sisters” who work for Metro.
A nondiscrimination ordinance figures to be filed soon and a group of co-signers have agreed to support Barry’s effort.
In 2003, former at-large Councilman Chris Ferrell pursued a nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation, but the resolution was never ultimately passed. (Ferrell is the CEO of SouthComm, which owns The City Paper.)
Mayor Karl Dean issued an executive order not long after taking office, which mandated diversity issues training program for Metro workers. The program is under the direction of the Metro Human Relations Commission. Craddock said only about a third of Metro workers have followed through on the training.
The current Metro nondiscrimination policy protects workers from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age and handicap.