Oakland County Expands Nondiscrimination Policy

Oakland County Expands Nondiscrimination Policy

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 20, 2019)

Pontiac, MI – The Oakland County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday evening to update the County’s nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression.

The newly approved policy states that “The County is committed to provide an Equal Employment Opportunity to all individuals, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, height, weight, disability, veteran status, familial status, marital status or any other reason, that is unrelated to the person’s ability to perform the duties of a particular job or position, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.”  It also states that no person shall be subjected to discrimination or harassment for those reasons.

The policy “shall apply to  all  County departments, boards, commissions and employees of Oakland County.”  It also requires that contractors for the county do not discriminate if they are to do business with Oakland County.

The policy only applies to Oakland County, not to private businesses or other governmental bodies.

Commissioner Eileen Kowall of White Lake had the item removed from the consent agenda and remarked that “We cannot supersede state law, it is unconstitutional and unenforceable for us to do that… I think we’re exceeding our authority here.”

She and the six other Republicans present for the meeting voted against the policy, which passed 11-7.

Board Chairperson Dave Woodward of Royal Oak said he wished the State of Michigan would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity, but in the absence of that, “I believe we can expand equality and I am very proud to do that to the extent we can under the law.”

Several Oakland County cities have nondiscrimination policies, including Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Pleasant Ridge, Lake Orion, Southfield, and Farmington Hills.

The full text of Oakland County’s new policy can be found here.

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