Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan recently signed into law Ordinance Number 82-2017 (“Ordinance”) expanding equal employment opportunity protections for employees working within the City. Most notably, the Ordinance extends protections against discrimination based upon an applicant’s or employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation. While the expanded protections are nothing new for public contractors already subject to the City’s non-discrimination laws, it is a significant change for employers operating within the City of Akron who previously did not have to account for such protections.
The Ordinance also creates the Akron Civil Rights Commission (“Commission”). The Commission is tasked with the job of enforcing the non-discrimination Ordinance by investigating and hearing complaints of discrimination. The Commission will be composed of a diverse set of five to seven Akron residents, reflective of the classes of individuals protected by the Ordinance, who will be appointed by the Mayor.
The Commissioners will work in conjunction with the City of Akron Law Department. If the Commission finds that an employer engaged in discriminatory practices in violation of the Ordinance, the applicant or employee bringing the complaint will be entitled to various remedies such as reinstatement, back pay, and damages resulting from humiliation/embarrassment. The Commission can also require an employer to post a notice and pay civil penalties not exceeding $1,000 per violation.
As a member of the Akron United Coalition, worked closely with the City of Akron to advocate for and provide support through the processes of adopting Ordinance Number 82-2017.