ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
61°
Cloudy
H 76° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    61°
    Current Conditions
    Cloudy. H 76° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    75°
    Afternoon
    Cloudy. H 76° L 63°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    68°
    Evening
    Thunderstorms. H 76° L 63°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Jax employment laws now prohibit discrimination for 'sexual orientation, gender identity or expression'

It was just a few months ago that Jacksonville’s Mayor directed his administration to bring all City employment-related laws in to compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination protections.

Now, a WOKV investigation is taking a closer look at what exactly that has meant- and how it could influence the “Human Rights Ordinance” debate moving forward.

The long running debate in Jacksonville has been whether to expand the HRO to include specific protections against discrimination for “sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression” in matters of employment, housing, and public accommodations. This expansion failed in 2012, but was brought back in 2015. Two competing bills were filed- one which would have the Council debate on whether to expand the HRO and one which would push the decision to the voters- and the City Council set up a series of special meetings dedicated only to vetting these bills. Mayor Lenny Curry also held a series of “community conversations” to hear from the public and panelists on the different impacts of voting for or against expansion.

Following the “conversations”, Curry issued a directive in January to ensure all policies and practices dealing with City employment would “preclude and prohibit all forms of employment discrimination upon any basis as currently interpreted by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” A few weeks later, the City Council withdrew the competing bills, with some Councilmen saying they wanted to see the impact of the directive before deciding how to move forward.

DOCUMENT: Mayor Lenny Curry's directive on City employment anti-discrimination measures

WOKV has now learned that, as a result of the directive, the same six words being debated for HRO expansion are now included in City employment-related laws.

A notice from the Employee Services Department dated late March updates the “City’s new nondiscrimination policy”. The “Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Statement of Policy”, “Employment Application”, and “Required federal and state bulletin board postings” through Jacksonville now includes protections against discrimination based on “sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression”- which was not included before the Mayor’s directive.

A “Nondiscrimination policy” has also been added to the City’s procurement manual- a brand new section lasting a few paragraphs at the end of the manual which outlines compliance with federal and state laws and requires contractors to have a “policy of nondiscrimination or harassment” with regard to a number of factors, including “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression”.

The directive deals specifically with employment-related matters, so other areas like public accommodations are not addressed in these changes.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri- who sponsored the bill that would have had the Council vote on expansion- believes the impact of the directive further bolsters his case for a more inclusive HRO.

“Why do you just add City employees and the vendors who do business or want to do business with the City and not include the whole City. We should not be the exception to the rule, the rule should be that there’s an HRO for everybody in Jacksonville,” he says.

He continues to meet with Councilmen and fine tune the expansion bill, including hearing concerns about the impact on small business and religious organizations.

Councilman Bill Gulliford- who sponsored the bill that would have had voters decide the issue- says those two areas continue to be his main concern.

“We are going to dictate and mandate conscience and action, and there’s where I run in to a real problem,” he says.

Gulliford says the Mayor’s directive doesn’t change his perspective on how the City should move forward. He says the directive allows businesses and citizens to continue to use their “conscience” and decide if they agree with the Mayor’s order.

“I can elect not to work for the City, just as I can elect not to do business with the City if I take exception to it,” he says.

He adds that many businesses have decided to add in more protections because of their “corporate conscience”, and not a City “mandate”.

Gulliford wouldn’t speculate on whether he would bring his bill back if and when Hazouri revives his, saying only that he’s open to whatever measure will be put forth as long as small business and religious organizations are protected.

Hazouri tells WOKV he’s planning to reintroduce some legislation regarding HRO expansion following the August primaries.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • A dentist in Washington state didn't show up for an appointment Saturday, so just after 7 p.m., a family member called the King County sheriff. >> Watch the news report here What they found has devastated a family and touched people in Sammamish and Seattle, where he and his wife worked. Dr. Rick Nicolini, his wife and adult son were all found dead inside their home in Sammamish's tony Broadmoore neighborhood. It is a development where neighbors say they know each other by name. But few people knew the Nicolinis well. 'They kind of kept to themselves,' said neighbor Rick Willard. 'I saw the kid when he was going to school.' And Willard said he saw nothing that foreshadowed this.  'And you never heard, you never saw anything between, among them, that would make you say ...' he was asked.  He interrupted the question and said, 'Never heard them yelling or screaming. Nothing, yeah. Just heard them doing yard work.' >> Read more trending news  He said the entire neighborhood was surprised to see King County sheriff's deputies surrounding their home Saturday night.  On Monday, investigators said all indications are that Richie Nicolini killed his parents, then took his own life.  Nicolini and his wife, Mary Ellen, worked at his dental office on Olive Way near downtown Seattle. KIRO-TV went to Sound Dentistry.  'Hi there,' said reporter Deborah Horne. 'We're from KIRO 7.' But the receptionist said everyone was grieving too much to talk. No patients were waiting; the Nicolinis didn't work Mondays.  Back at their home in Sammamish, a second car was parked in the driveway. The people in it said they had nothing to say. All of this is a sorrowful coda to three lives. 'Yeah, it's sad,' said Willard.  'Sad and, as you said, a surprise?' he was asked.  'Yeah,' he replied. 'I don't know what would drive somebody to do that.' That is what detectives are trying to determine, too: why Richie Nicolini shot his parents and himself in the head. The case remains an active investigation.
  • At least one person has died in a morning crash on CR 210 near South Hampton Golf Club.  A semi truck and three other vehicles were involved in the crash.  The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says that the Florida Highway Patrol is on scene and conducting the investigation. 
  • Rahmael Sal Holt, the suspect in the shooting death of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Officer Brian Shaw, is in custody after a days-long manhunt. >> Watch the news report here Police had been searching for Holt since Friday night’s shooting. He was arrested Monday morning at a home on Ladora Way in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood after law enforcement agencies received a tip that he was there. In addition to Holt, eight other people were arrested – including his mother. >> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage Shaw, 25, was killed after he pulled over a Jeep on Friday in a traffic stop on Leishman Avenue. According to court documents, the Jeep never stopped and Holt, who allegedly killed Shaw, fled and Shaw pursued him on foot.  >> Suspect named in Pennsylvania police officer's shooting death Tavon Harper, who police say was driving the Jeep, took off, police said. Holt then fired multiple shots, killing Shaw, according to court documents. Shaw was transported to Allegheny Valley Hospital, where he later died.  >> Read more trending news  WPXI confirmed with multiple sources that Shaw was ambushed that night and at least one of the bullets went through a soft spot in his body armor. Read more here.
  • Jacksonville, Florida, officers say a man was high on 'loveboat' when he shot and killed a driver on I-95. >> Watch the news report here Police said 32-year-old Tyrell Brown was sleeping in the passenger seat of 25-year-old Steven Shawn Grady's car as they drove through Jacksonville on Sunday. The group was traveling from Orlando to North Carolina. At one point, Brown woke up and shot Grady in the face, a witness told police. The witness, who was in the backseat of the car, tried to gain control of the wheel. The car ran off the interstate and crashed near the Union Street exit around 3:15 a.m. >> Read more trending news  Officials said Brown violently resisted officers when they got to the scene. There was no indication of a prior altercation between Brown and Grady, officers said. A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesperson said Brown smoked a cigarette dipped in formaldehyde and marijuana before the shooting. He was taken to UF Health Jacksonville for his safety, officers said. Brown is facing a murder charge. His next court date is Dec. 12.
  • Charles Manson’s infamous “family” numbered around 100 people in 1969, when Manson orchestrated a series of murders in Los Angeles that, over two nights, left seven people dead.  Nearly five decades later, the names of only a few family members are remembered, mostly due to the grisly nature of the crimes for which they were convicted.  >> Read more trending news Here’s where the most notorious Manson family members are now: Charles Manson Manson, 83, died Sunday night at a hospital in Bakersfield, California. He was taken there last week for treatment of an undisclosed illness from the California State Prison at Corcoran, where he was serving a life sentence. Manson, along with several of his followers, was convicted of multiple counts of murder for the Aug. 9, 1969, killings of actress Sharon Tate, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, her partner Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent, as well as the Aug. 10, 1969, murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  Manson was also convicted of the unrelated murders of music teacher Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea.  Though Manson was not present for the Tate-LaBianca homicides, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. That sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972, when the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty was unconstitutional.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Manson’s stay in prison was not a peaceful one. He racked up hundreds of infractions and over the years was denied parole 12 times.  His next parole hearing was scheduled for 2027, the Times said.  Susan Atkins Susan Atkins, who was 21 at the time of the crimes, died of brain cancer at the Central California Women’s Facility at Chowchilla in September 2009, just a week shy of 40 years after her conviction. The longest-serving female inmate in California, she was denied compassionate release by the state parole board. Described by a former prosecutor as the “scariest of the Manson girls,” Atkins played a large role in the murders, particularly that of Sharon Tate, who was nearly nine months pregnant when she was killed. The Times reported that Atkins confessed to stabbing Tate to death as the young actress pleaded for her life and that of her unborn son. “Woman, I have no mercy for you,” Atkins testified she told Tate.  Atkins also participated in the LaBianca murders the following night.  The Manson family became suspects in the murders, in part, due to Atkins’ confession to cellmates while she was jailed on unrelated charges.  Atkins, who embraced Christianity while incarcerated, married twice while behind bars, the Times said. Despite prison staff advocating for her release as far back as 2005, Atkins was denied parole 13 times before she died.  Charles “Tex” Watson Tex Watson, 71, is imprisoned at Mule Creek Prison, where he is an ordained minister, the Times reported. A model prisoner, he works as a janitor at the facility.  Watson, who described his position in the family as Manson’s “right-hand man,” was the Manson-appointed leader at both the Tate and LaBianca murder scenes. According to testimony in the murder trial, Watson shot Parent, Sebring and Frykowski, who was also pistol-whipped. He also inflicted some of the stab wounds on the victims in the Tate murders. Manson also put Watson in charge the next night at the LaBianca house, where he killed Leno LaBianca and participated in the slaying of Rosemary LaBianca. Watson, who was married and divorced in prison, and fathered four children, has his own ministry, Abounding Love. His website, run by an administrator outside of the prison, states that he “testifies that anyone can be forgiven and transformed by Christ, even a former member of the Manson family.” Watson has been denied parole 17 times, most recently in October.  Leslie Van Houten Leslie Van Houten, 68, remains jailed at the California Institution for Women at Corona, where she has spent her entire sentence as a model prisoner, the Times said. She was convicted of murder and conspiracy in 1978, following her third trial on the charges. A former homecoming princess and the youngest of Manson’s followers, Van Houten held Rosemary LaBianca down as Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel stabbed her to death. Testimony at trial indicated that Van Houten also stabbed the victim, but did so after she was already dead.  Van Houten once told a parole board she was “deeply ashamed” of her role in the slayings, the Times reported.  “I take very seriously not just the murders, but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson,” she said.  The state parole board recommended Van Houten for parole in April after 19 previous tries, but California Gov. Jerry Brown reversed the decision.  The parole board again recommended her for parole in September, and Van Houten is awaiting Brown’s response, the Times said. Patricia Krenwinkel Patricia Krenwinkel, who became the longest-serving female inmate in California upon Susan Atkins’ death, remains at the California Institution for Women at Corona, where she works in the prison’s rehabilitative programs, the Times said. She has condemned Manson in the years since the murders. “What a coward that I found myself to be when I look at the situation,” Krenwinkel told the New York Times in 2014. “The thing I try to remember sometimes is that what I am today is not what I was at 19.” Krenwinkel participated in the murders at both the Tate and LaBianca murder scenes. Testimony at trial showed that she chased an injured and screaming Abigail Folger from the house onto the expansive lawn, where she continued to stab her 28 times, CNN reported.  The following night, Krenwinkel stabbed Rosemary LaBianca to death, testimony showed. She later scrawled “Death to Pigs” on the wall in Leno LaBianca’s blood. Krenwinkel has been denied parole 14 times, most recently in June.  Linda Kasabian Linda Kasabian, who drove the killers to both the Tate and LaBianca scenes because she was the only family member with a valid driver’s license, was offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony at trial.  Kasabian, who Watson ordered to remain outside during the Tate murders, later recalled seeing some of the victims run screaming from the house, followed by their killers. She also remained outside at the LaBianca house.  The Times reported that, as of 1994, Kasabian was a mother of four. She was believed to be living on the East Coast.  Robert “Bobby” Beausoleil and Bruce Davis Bobby Beausoleil, 70, who was convicted of murdering Gary Hinman on Manson’s orders, is housed at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, according to CNN. In jail awaiting trial for Hinman’s slaying in August 1969, he was not involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders.  Bruce Davis, 75, is imprisoned at the California Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo, where he is serving a life sentence in the murders of Hinman and Shorty Shea. Davis, who the Times reported has been denied parole 30 times, became a born-again Christian in prison and earned a doctoral degree in religious philosophy.  Steve “Clem” Grogan Clem Grogan, who rode along with Manson and the other killers the night of the LaBianca murders, did not participate in the killings. He did help Manson, Watson and Davis kill Shorty Shea, however.  Grogan, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, was released on parole in 1985 after he helped authorities recover Shea’s remains by drawing a map to where the stuntman’s body was buried.  Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme Squeaky Fromme, who was one of Manson’s most devoted followers, did not participate in the murders, but was present outside the courthouse every day during the murder trial of Manson and the other defendants.  Fromme achieved her own notoriety in 1975 when she attempted to assassinate then-President Gerald Ford during a visit to Sacramento. Her gun did not fire and Secret Service agents wrestled her to the ground.  The Times reported that Fromme, who was sentenced to life in prison, escaped from a West Virginia federal prison in 1987, but was recaptured two days later. She continued to write to Manson while in prison.  Fromme, now 68, was paroled in August 2009 after serving 34 years in prison, the newspaper said. 

The Latest News Videos