Wednesday, May 15, 2019

City of Dunwoody proposes ordinance targeting discrimination and hate crimes. #gapol

The mission of the City of Dunwoody is to provide the highest quality of life for those who live, work, or play in our community and to foster an environment where business can prosper. We will serve all stakeholders in a transparent manner with resourceful, efficient, progressive, and professional leadership.

As City Council members, we serve a very diverse community of residents, businesses, employees, and customers of those businesses. As a community, we are a melting pot of races, colors, religions, genders, national origins, sexual orientations, ages, disability, marital, and family statuses. We as human beings are all equals. Unfortunately, case law is not entirely settled in this area and in the eyes of the State of Georgia as well as the Federal Government there are not equal protections of the law against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This discrimination has both an economic and human cost to our society, therefore, I, along with Councilwoman Pam Tallmadge propose protections against discrimination for employment, housing or the provision of goods and services for those in our community whom state and federal law does not provide equal protection.

We as a city should let it be known that we stand not only for equality but against all forms of hate therefore in this proposal, we have included language whereby the Dunwoody Police Department will develop guidelines for the identification, investigation, documentation, and reporting of hate crimes committed within the corporate limits of the City of Dunwoody. We will also train our staff, start collecting standardized data and then report such data to the FBI. Our police department already does a beautiful job in fostering a sense of community where hate is not tolerated, but I have already reached out organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center to see if they can assist us in fostering the message of tolerance within our community and ending hate.

The cities of Atlanta, Chamblee and Doraville have recently passed similar non-discrimination legislation and when an active & engaged Dunwoody resident asked what we were doing to protect his family, Pam and I reviewed the background laws and ordinances of Dunwoody and the other cities, we reviewed our internal EEOC and non-discrimination policies, we have discussed the issue with staff including community development, legal, economic development, as well as the police department; and only after being fully vetted have we decided to put forward this proposal for Council consideration.

Our proposed anti-discrimination ordinance is straight forward whereby an aggrieved person may file a complaint with the City Clerk alleging discrimination against a holder of a business license.  After a legal review determines that there are no other legal remedies being offered under Federal or State Law, it which starts a process of non-binding mediation between the two parties and if not successfully settled in mediation, a hearing officer will adjudicate the matter on the evidence provided. Once a finding is determined, the mediator or hearing officer’s fees shall be assessed to the non-prevailing party. Parties adversely affected by the final decision regarding the complaint may appeal to the Superior Court of DeKalb County. The maximum penalty of the first violation is $500.

We believe that this proposed City ordinance fosters equal treatment by upholding the values of equality, inclusion, and diversity for all within the City of Dunwoody and though it does not replace Federal or State Law, it is a start in the right direction.


MF said...

A polite "No, thank you" when it comes to limiting freedom of speech, no matter if the purported purpose is "ending hate." And if the SPLC was actually consulted, then a much more emphatic "NO!" is deserved.

Tom Taylor said...

Lays the groundwork for lawsuits. Bad for business in the city. Can anyone actually point to an incidence of this in Dunwoody?

Steve Barton said...

The SPLC is a bad actor and should not be a part of any good faith discussion. Did the citizen who asked about "protection" point to an incident? And what is "derogatory language" doing in that logo up at the top? Limiting speech does not represent me.

danknapp76 said...

Thank you for proposing this ordinance. It is extremely important to emphasize that Dunwoody is a welcoming city!

MF said...

"Discriminate, discrimination or discriminatory means any act, policy or practice that, regardless of intent, has the effect of subjecting any person to differential treatment as a result of that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status, or veteran status."—Seems innocuous enough, but we'll see how this plays out. "Regardless of intent" criminalizes any perceived mistreatment and ignores mens rea. Criminalizing "differential treatment" is the black hole in the ordinance. What that bit of vagueness will swallow cannot be calculated; it can only be experienced and the experience will not be pleasant for those pulled into explaining their decisions, such as store managers who use differential treatment as a tool to reward or punish their workers' different performance levels and which the aggrieved may perceive as discrimination. One can hope that the "Mediator’s fees and the Hearing Officer’s fees shall be assessed to the non-prevailing party" clause will prohibit frivolous acts of retribution, but the perception on the part of City Council that such an ordinance is necessary would seem to indicate that Council does not believe in the integrity of the citizens of Dunwoody.

Jason said...

Thanks for putting this measure forward, John.