Housing and employment discrimination based on gender identity to be documented

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Megan Barry, Ronnie Steine, Erik ColeNashville’s Metro Human Relations Commission now has the authority to document claims of housing and employment discrimination in the private sector based on gender identity.  In April, the Commission will meet and decide whether to embrace their new authority.

This new development comes on the heels of a letter from Metro Council Members Megan Barry, Ronnie Steine, and Erik Cole arguing that the Metro Human Relations Commission has the authority to gather data and provide programming about gender identity discrimination and
asking for a legal opinion clarifying the scope of the Commission’s authority.

In 2003, a legal opinion established the Commission’s authority to investigate claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Now the GLBT community could be included with the addition of gender identity, thanks to the action of Barry, Steine, and Cole, who have written to the Human Relations Commission members informing them of this development.

"While this important victory does not give the Human Relations Commission the authority to enforce a settlement in discrimination cases involving gender identity or sexual orientation, it gives us hope that we can fully document the discrimination against our community," Tennessee Equality Project officials said today in an email. "Documenting discrimination could help build the case for future Metro ordinances, state law, and the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. "

TEP President H.G. Stovall said in an email that this represents a good next step following the September 2009 law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity against Metro government employees. In coming days, TEP plans to discuss the process for reporting discrimination to the Metro Human Relations Commission if the Commission embraces this clarification of its authority. Visit tnep.org for more information.

The Human Relations Commission is holding a Public Listening Forum in Hermitage on March 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information. TEP encourages citizens to attend to make their voice heard.

"We urge you attend and make it clear to the Human Relations Commission that they should fully embrace the opportunity to be inclusive and willingly take on documenting discrimination based on gender identity in Davidson County," Stovall said.  RSVP to [email protected].