City Council approved an ordinance at its May 20, 2019 meeting, which clarifies that persons may not be treated differently in Worthington because of a protected characteristic. The CRC recommended the ordinance to promote tolerance, respect and inclusion in the Worthington Community. The new ordinance was effective July 1, 2019:
To Enact New Chapter 539 “Discriminatory Practices, Civil Rights, Disclosure” of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Worthington to Prohibit Discrimination in Housing, Employment, and Public Accommodations Based on Designated Classes.
Worthington is a community that values equality and non-discrimination. The community has a long tradition of inclusion and respect for people of diverse backgrounds, from the support of anti-slavery efforts and the Underground Railroad in the 19th century to civil rights and fair housing efforts in the 20th century. Few communities, whether large or small, can lay claim to organizations such as the Community Relations Commission, the Worthington International Friendship Association and Partners for Community and Character – all of which foster respect for others.
Worthington Community Relations Commission
There has been some type of human relations organization active in the City of Worthington since the 1960s. The current Community Relations Commission (CRC) was re-established by City Council in 1991. City Council appoints the nine members of the CRC and the Commission’s duties are listed in the City Charter:
The Commission shall act in an advisory capacity to City Council and to the City Administrative Staff on community issues related to fair and equal treatment for all persons. The Commission shall promote educational and other programs and opportunities to foster understanding, positive relationships, and a strong sense of community among people of diverse educational, racial, ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds.
Yearly activities include the Martin Luther King Celebration, Neighborhood Grant program and the Good Neighbor Award. The CRC also sponsors forums and educational programs on topics of community interest.
Summary of Ordinance
In an effort to promote tolerance, respect and inclusion, the Community Relations Commission recommended an Ordinance for consideration by City Council which clarifies that persons may not be treated differently because of a protected characteristic in Worthington. Under Ohio law, there are protections against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age and ancestry. However, there is no statewide protection for sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Up until the passage of this non-discrimination ordinance, Worthington’s Codified Ordinances only referenced race, color, religion or national origin.
Who is covered?
The ordinance provides protection from discrimination because of a person’s race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, marital status, familial status, genetic information, or military status.
How are individuals protected?
The protections extend to housing, employment and public accommodations throughout Worthington. Essentially, persons may not be treated differently or denied services, credit, housing (sale, lease or rental), or employment (hiring, terms or conditions of employment) because of their protected characteristic.
People who believe they have been discriminated against because of a protected characteristic may file a charge with the Worthington City Clerk. Depending upon the specific nature of the allegations, the person will be referred to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Law Director or his designee will proceed with an investigation. If the City retains the matter, voluntary mediation is available. If mediation is not pursued or is unsuccessful, the matter will scheduled for a hearing. If the hearing officer finds that discrimination occurred, a cease and desist order and/or fine may be issued.
For More Information
Additional information about the Community Relations Commission is available here. Questions or comments for the Community Relations Commission may be sent to staff liaison, Lori Trego by Email or by calling 614-854-7171