Barry prepares to introduce non-discrimination ordinance

Megan Barry,
Metro Council member At Large

A nondiscrimination ordinance filed at the Metro Council office today would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes for Metro government employees.

At-large Council member Megan Barry said the ordinance will be filed with the clerk's office on Tuesday, July 14, and will have its first reading on July 21.

At-large Council members Barry, Tim Garrett, Ronnie Steine and Jerry Maynard are the ordinance’s primary sponsors. Barry has been a strong supporter of the legislation and promised to push for the ordinance last year.

Metro’s current nondiscrimination ordinance makes it unlawful to fail or refuse to hire, promote, fire or discriminate against an individual based on race, religion, creed, gender, national origin, color, age or disability.

TEP Chair Christopher Sanders previously told O&AN that the ordinance is a vital and necessary step toward equality in the workplace.

"All Metro employees deserve the same non-discrimination policy that Nashville’s teachers have,” Sanders said. “Metro ought to be free of discrimination. Let’s put it in writing.”

But District 4 Councilman Michael Craddock holds an opposing view. Craddock told the Nashville City Paper that he preferred mandatory diversity sensitivity training for Metro workers to a nondiscrimination policy that “wouldn’t really accomplish anything but pandering.”

The Nashville City Paper reported that Craddock wasn’t inclined to support a nondiscrimination policy, because he viewed education as the key to addressing workplace issues.

But, he said only about a third of Metro workers have followed through on the diversity issues training program implemented by Mayor Karl Kean shortly after taking office. The program is under the direction of the Metro Human Relations Commission. 

Sanders said the non-discrimination policy and training can exist simultaneously.   

"The ordinance addresses the real issue of employment discrimination," Sanders said. "TEP's district captains have spoken to past and current Metro employees who have either endured discrimination or are afraid to be out because of hostile comments from co-workers.  An ordinance with teeth would protect these workers and let them do their jobs.  We commend the sponsors for their leadership on this issue."

If enacted, Metro Nashville would join Atlanta, Louisville, New Orleans, and Chapel Hill as cities that already have similar non-discrimination policies. Locally, many businesses already provide a non-discrimination policy for their employees, including the area’s largest employer, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center, which has more than 21,000 employees.

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