Curry Prohibits 'All Forms' Of Employment Discrimination; Opposes HRO Bills

Jan 29, 2016

Credit Republican Party of Florida

Updated 5:42 p.m. on 01/29/16 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is changing the city’s employment policy to prohibit discrimination of any kind. In a memo to city employees Friday, the mayor said he’s aligning with federal hiring standards.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says discrimination against employees for being gay or transgender is prohibited because it’s a form of sex discrimination.

Curry also goes on in the letter to say he does not support any further anti-discrimination legislation.

The City Council is weighing two human rights ordinance bills. One of them, sponsored by Councilman Tommy Hazouri, would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment or public areas based sexual orientation, gender identity or expression by amending the city’s existing HRO.

The other bill before the Council, introduced by Councilman Bill Gulliford, would let voters decide on those protections instead of the Council.

In contrast, Curry's change applies only to the hiring of city employees and vendors with city contracts. Curry declined an interview after he released his statement.

As Curry released his statement Friday, Hazouri was meeting with other members of the Council down the hall to answer any questions about his HRO bill. Hazouri says he’s not deterred by Curry’s stance.

“I mean I think that we’re going to move forward. We’ve already put ourselves in place, we’re hearing. I don’t know what he’ll do with it in the end. I don’t know what the Council will do,” Hazouri said. “How can you do one for one group of people, our city employees, which I commend him for, and not do it for the rest of the city?”

 

Councilman Tommy Hazouri meets with other council members to discuss his human rights ordinance bill at City Hall, Friday.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

Councilman Jim Love said he would sign on as a cosponsor to Hazouri’s bill Friday. He says he doesn’t want Jacksonville to be the last big city to protect LGBT people.

“I’ve called the other cities. I’ve called Tampa and Orlando and I said, ‘Are you having any problems with this?’ and they said, ‘No, it makes us more competitive when we’re looking for business, and we’re not having any problems,’” Love said. “It’s the right thing to do, and the sooner we can do it and put it behind us, the better.”

Councilwoman Joyce Morgan says she supports the bill but isn’t signing on as a cosponsor.

“Discrimination is discrimination, and we cannot accept discrimination in any form. None,” she said.

She says it’s now the Council’s job to go through the process of addressing concerns with the bills.

Councilman Al Ferraro was at Hazouri’s meeting, saying he doesn’t support discrimination but worries the HRO is taking up too much of the Council’s time and could divide the city. Meanwhile, he said issues like crime are being pushed to the side.

And Councilman Scott Wilson said he wasn’t sold on the transgender protections in the HRO bills.

Hazouri’s bill is cosponsored by Councilman Aaron Bowman, and, soon, Councilman Jim Love. Gulliford’s bill is cosponsored by councilmen Doyle Carter and Sam Newby.

Next week Council will begin debating both HRO bills.   

Original story below:

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is changing city employment policy to prohibit discrimination of any kind. In a memo to city employees Friday, the mayor said he’s aligning with federal hiring standards.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says discrimination against employees for being gay or transgender is prohibited because it’s a form of sex discrimination.

Curry also goes on to say he does not support any further anti-discrimination legislation.

The City Council is weighing a bill that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment or public areas based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Another bill before the Council would let voters decide on those protections instead of the Council.

In contrast, Curry's change applies only to the hiring of city employees and vendors with city contracts.

This story will be updated.