Monday, July 27, 2020

West Palm Beach to Stengthen Equal Opportunity Ordinance

West Palm Beach City Hall Complex

(West Palm Beach, Florida) At tonight's meeting, West Palm Beach City Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the city's Equal Opportunity Ordinance by extending protection from discrimination to employees working for small businesses.

The vote was taken at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), Florida's oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Over the past three decades, PBCHRC has been responsible for the implementation of more than 140 laws and policies providing equal protections, rights and benefits for the LGBTQ community.

Currently, under both the West Palm Beach Equal Opportunity Ordinance and the Palm Beach County Equal Employment Ordinance, only employees working for businesses with 15 or more employees are protected from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, familial status or age. 

When the amendment approved tonight by the West Palm Beach City Commission takes effect following a final vote August 10, employees working for small businesses in West Palm Beach - those with between 5 and 14 employees - also will be protected.

"Tonight, in a unified show of support, West Palm Beach City Commissioners took another step to protect women and minorities from discrimination in employment," said PBCHRC President and Founder Rand Hoch. "West Palm Beach has been in the forefront of protecting workers from discrimination for decades."

The West Palm Beach Equal Opportunity Ordinance is not 
only one the state's most comprehensive civil rights ordinances, it also is the only civil rights law in Florida to soundly withstand a repeal effort.

Because the 1994 Equal Opportunity Ordinance protected gays and lesbians from discrimination, the Christian Coalition gathered a sufficient number signatures to force a referendum election in an attempt to repeal ordinance. However, after an ugly campaign, their efforts backfired. On January 10, 1995, West Palm Beach voters turned out in record numbers and resoundingly voted to keep the gay rights law in effect.

PBCHRC also has asked the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners to amend the Palm Beach County Equal Employment Ordinance to protect employees working for small employers throughout the county

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