Sometimes proposals made with the best intent fail to make sense when emotions are pulled from the equation.
The proposed ordinance amendment to "prohibit discrimination in city employment decisions based on sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression" to be considered by the Cape Coral City Council on Monday falls into this category.
We believe Councilmember Jessica Cosden is sincere in her belief that the city needs to be proactive in its own employment practices by adding language to its policies which already prohibit discrimination "because of race, religion, national origin, color, sex, age and political affiliation and disability."
We, in fact, applaud the thought.
We do not, however, see the need for the cumbersome, minutely detailed, ordinance revision proposed.
A couple of things.
The city has received no complaints of either harassment or discrimination based on the protected classes to be added.
Councilmember Cosden says she is aware of the statistic but knows of at least one employee who has experienced such discrimination. She also says that the city's municipal employees really have had no reason to complain thus far because that sort of treatment is not expressly banned.
With all due respect, it is.
"Discrimination against any person in recruitment, examination, appointment, training, promotion, retention, or any other personnel action, because of political or religious affiliations, or because of sex, color, age, marital status, handicap, physical or mental impairment, race, national origin, citizenship status, or any other non performance factor;" is plainly outlined as grounds for disciplinary action in the city's Personnel Ordinance.
The language ... "or any other non performance factor," has long been interpreted by the federal government to be inclusive of the individuals the city ordinance amendment looks to protect:
"The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), as amended, also protects federal government applicants and employees from discrimination in personnel actions... based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, political affiliation, or on conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the applicant or employee - which can include sexual orientation or gender identity," an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission directive on the issue states.
A similar understanding on the part of the city's administration provides, or would provide, the protections sought without the need to amend the ordinance.
Who favors discrimination? Certainly not us and probably not you, either.
But for these reasons we believe Council should reject this proposed change to its Personnel Rules and Regulations.
It's politically correct. It feels good. But in terms of effect, it does little but boost word count in the existing ordinance.
- Breeze editorial