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HRC ranks California companies high on Corporate Equality Index

But enforcement may be an issue

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As the nation’s largest LGBT rights lobbying organization, the Human Rights Campaign often comes under strong criticism from the LGBT community for its strategic political decisions. But there is no doubt that the nation’s corporate decision-makers take HRC’s Corporate Equality Index very seriously as they seek the “best and brightest” employees and a loyal customer base.

This is not hyperbole. The governor of Georgia vetoed a pending anti-LGBT religious freedom bill after HRC President Chad Griffin reached out to Hollywood to cease production in the state, followed up by threats to boycott from the NBA and other corporate giants. The HRC threat of economic boycott over the abhorrent anti-LGBT HB2 helped Roy Cooper beat the incumbent Republican governor and the state legislature subsequently voted against the anti-LGBT law, though key provisions of the anti-LGBT law remain.

On Thursday, HRC released its 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) showing that i120 companies in California are among “a record number of the nation’s major companies and law firms are advancing vital policies and practices to protect LGBTQ workers around the world.”

“This year, a record-breaking 609 businesses earned the CEI’s top score of 100, up from 517 last year — a single-year increase of 18 percent. This record sets a new high water mark for corporate leadership over the 15-year history of the CEI,” according to an HRC press release. “In total, 947 companies and law firms were officially rated in the new CEI, up from 887 in last year’s. The report also unofficially rated 137 Fortune 500 companies, which have yet to respond to an invitation to participate in the CEI survey assessing their LGBTQ policies and practices.”

In California, the average ranking for the 120 companies and law firms is 91 with 81 earning 100 points, 15 earning 90 points and above, and 10 earning 80 points and above.

The report spells out its criteria and breaks the ranking down accordingly for a number of different areas such as Automotive, Banking, a slew of Computer-related companies, and Engineering and Construction, etc.

KB Home worked with “The Ellen Show” to build a house for a viewer in 2012. (Photo is a screen grab of a video)

In the latter category is the Los Angeles-based firm KB Home, which received a ranking of 35. The low ranking is achieved by having half-hearted non-discrimination policies and a zero in the category “positively engages the external LGBTQ community.” But why would KB Homes need to do any positive LGBT external outreach if it assumes LGBT viewers regularly watch HGTV or “The Ellen Show,” which has featured the construction company in the past. More recently, KB Home made news for the anti-gay rant spouted against comedienne Kathy Griffin and her boyfriend by CEO Jeffrey Mezger.

Mezger subsequently apologized after KB Home’s board of directors threatened to fire him if he did it again and cut his 2017 bonus by 25%.

It not clear if or how HRC included the incident in their deliberations.

HRC did consider the external factors at work regarding two complaints against Walmart brought by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As a result, HRC suspended its rating of the corporate giant, pending remedial action.
TLDEF Executive Director Jillian Weiss noted that the suspension is an opportunity to put companies on notice that their good policies might not be reaching the shop floor. “We hope this will deliver the message to Walmart and others that good corporate policy is not enough. It must be accompanied by strong enforcement mechanisms, or it is mere window dressing,” Weiss said in a press release. “TLDEF will continue to bring suits on behalf of transgender people who experience discrimination in employment, education, health care access and public accommodations.”

Overall, however, the news is good.

“At a time when the rights of LGBTQ people are under attack by the Trump-Pence Administration and state legislatures across the country, hundreds of top American companies are driving progress toward equality in the workplace,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their operations around the globe and impacting millions of people beyond our shores. In addition, many of these companies have also become vocal advocates for equality in the public square, including the dozens that have signed on to amicus briefs in vital Supreme Court cases and the 106 corporate supporters of the Equality Act. We are proud to have developed so many strong partnerships with corporate allies who see LGBTQ equality as a crucial issue for our country and for their businesses.”

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood approves hotel worker protection ordinance

According to the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, 25 percent of the City’s labor force works in hospitality and food services.

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Graphic via the City of West Hollywood

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City Council of the City of West Hollywood, at its regular meeting on Monday, August 2, 2021, approved on second reading a Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, which establishes certain additional protections for hotel workers in the City of West Hollywood.

According to the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, 25 percent of the City’s labor force works in hospitality and food services. Currently, there are 18 hotels open in West Hollywood, ranging from 14 rooms to 285 rooms, totaling 2,566 rooms in the City.

The cities of Santa Monica, Long Beach, Emeryville, Oakland, and Seattle have also adopted Ordinances that include some or all of the provisions of West Hollywood’s Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance.

The approved Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance will add Chapter 5.128 to the West Hollywood Municipal Code regarding hotel worker protection.

The Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance includes four key elements:

  1. A requirement, beginning September 1, 2021, that hotels provide the “right to recall” to employees laid-off due to catastrophic events (such as COVID-19) and offer those laid-off employees all positions that become available for which the laid-off employees are qualified, and also provide worker retention protections to employees, requiring that a hotel retains its workforce for 90 days if the hotel is sold or a change in control occurs;
  2. A requirement, beginning January 1, 2022, that hotels provide personal security devices (sometimes known as panic buttons) to employees that are required to work in guest rooms or restrooms by themselves;
  3. A provision, beginning January 1, 2022, regarding workload and compensation, as follows: “For hotels with fewer than 40 guest rooms, a hotel employer shall not require a room attendant to clean rooms amounting to a total of more than 4,000 square feet of floor space in any eight-hour workday, unless the hotel employer pays the room attendant twice the room attendant’s regular rate of pay for each and every hour worked during the workday. For hotels with 40 or more guest rooms, a hotel employer shall not require a room attendant to clean rooms amounting to a total of more than 3,500 square feet of floor space in any eight-hour workday, unless the hotel employer pays the room attendant twice the room attendant’s regular rate of pay for each and every hour worked during the workday. If a room attendant is assigned to clean seven or more checkout rooms or additional bed rooms during any eight-hour workday, each such checkout room or additional bed room shall for purposes of this subsection count as 500 square feet, regardless of the actual square footage of each room. The limitations contained herein apply to any combination of spaces, including guest rooms, meeting rooms, and other rooms within the hotel, and apply regardless of the furniture, equipment, or amenities in such rooms.”; and
  4. A requirement, beginning July 1, 2022, that hotels provide public housekeeping training by contracting with a certified third-party entity to provide annual six-hour training to staff on a variety of topics included in the Ordinance including workers’ rights and responsibilities under the proposed ordinance, best practices for identifying and responding to suspected instances of human trafficking, domestic violence, or violent/threatening conduct, best practices for effective cleaning techniques, best practices for identifying and avoiding insect/vermin infestation, and best practices for identifying and responding to other potential criminal activity.
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Los Angeles

Fed up, LA moves to require proof of vax for indoor dining, bars, gyms

“Enough is enough already. Hospital workers are exhausted, moms are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year”

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell (D-13) on Wednesday introduced a motion to the council that will require vaccine proof indoors at restaurants, bars, gyms, stores, spas, movie theaters, concert venues and sporting events.

“Enough is enough already,” Martinez said in a statement. “Hospital workers are exhausted, moms who have put aside their careers are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year. We have three vaccines that work and are readily available, so what’s it going to take?”

There has already been over a dozen LA eateries that have enacted Vax-Proof required for entry including several in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Downtown, and across the city.

The motion calls for the L.A. City Attorney to prepare and present an ordinance and to report back on how businesses can comply with the measure.

City Attorney Mike Feuer, a mayoral candidate, on Tuesday also sent a letter urging the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to require proof of vaccination for certain indoor activities, including those listed by the LA City Council members in Wednesday’s motion.

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Los Angeles

Delivering justice and equity, Jasmyne Cannick has ‘the receipts’

This fight is about getting justice for Ed Buck’s victims & also calling out all of the people along the way who failed them & enabled him

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Jasmyne Cannick (Photo Credit: JayBeez)

LOS ANGELES – In the world of popular culture the use of the slang phrase ‘has the receipts‘ translates to bringing proof that someone was/is lying. Conversely it also is used to define that a person is being genuine.

Over the past several years as the crimes committed by West Hollywood resident and political activist Ed Buck, as he preyed on Black men were made public, the person holding the receipts was journalist turned advocate Jasmyne Cannick.

Frustrated and angered by what she perceived as lack of serious engagement by local law enforcement in the initial stages of the investigation into the death of  26-year-old Gemmel Moore, Cannick rallied the community and publicly called out law enforcement to take more aggressive action.

She orchestrated and led a grass-roots effort to get the criminal justice system of Los Angeles to listen to Gemmel’s mother LaTisha Nixon’s plea for justice. She used Gemmel’s own words, written in his journal to alert authorities to the depths of the debauchery occurring inside that second floor flat in West Hollywood. She pleaded with law enforcement including the District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles Jackie Lacey to take action.

Her activism and fueling the rage of the greater community finally received the attention of Federal law enforcement and action that culminated in Buck’s arrest and the trial.

She stood by the families even as to the horror of many, another Black man died nearly two years after Gemmel (2017) in January of 2019 and like that young life snuffed out too early, Timothy Dean, 55, was found deceased on the trash strewn floor of Buck’s flat.

“The lives of Black gay men matter — no matter if they’re homeless, survival sex workers or escorts — this is a case that transcends race, class, wealth. Our lives matter, our community matters, and just because someone is unhoused, an addict, may be a survival sex worker, or an escort, or HIV positive does not mean their lives don’t matter and we should look the other way when they show up dead in a white Democratic donor’s home.” ~ Jasmyne Cannick.

In her owns words Cannick writes after the jury delivered guilty verdicts on nine separate federal counts; “It’s been a long four years on this road for justice–justice that a guilty verdict would be but one small part off.  Real justice is making sure that this never ever happens again.  We can’t do that with the enabling parties still acting like Ed Buck didn’t happen”

She adds, “Ed Buck only got away with it for so long because he was white and because we still don’t believe Black victims–even when they tell us what happened to them.

Gemmel Moore told us in his diary, “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth. It was very painful.”

Buck was not all that he was portrayed as in the media, but he parlayed his influence, funneled through donations from others, and did ingratiate himself into the Democratic party in California over the years. There is plenty of photographic evidence to substantiate those claims to fame showing Buck rubbing elbows with politicians from all quarters.

Worse though was that rumours of Buck’s fetishes were well known and yet even after the death of Gemmel Moore there seemed to be a collective shrugging of shoulders and zero calls for accountability. Cannick however, wasn’t having it.

“Former district attorney Jackie Lacey was sitting on a mountain of evidence and still did nothing to prosecute Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean,” she said.

Appearing on BNC’s Black News Tonight anchored by journalist Marc Lamont Hill last week,  Cannick told Hill that the case intersected race and sexual orientation.

“As much as this case is about Ed Buck, it’s also about our housing crisis, and what it makes people feel they have to do — play Russian roulette with their lives just to have a roof over their heads,” she stressed.

Cannick is not just a gadfly community activist, in fact far from it. She is a powerful voice for those who have had no voice reminding people that Buck happened because the community allowed him to happen.

In her own words she points out, “Paul Koretz, a candidate for Controller in 2022, who is backed by the Black Democratic establishment and has taken thousands from Ed Buck, told a group that Buck’s victims were all “disadvantaged Black hustlers.”

“So while this fight is as much about getting justice for Ed Buck’s victims it’s also about calling out all of the people and entities along the way who failed them and enabled Ed Buck. Not doing so ensures a repeat of this situation because Ed Buck isn’t the only Ed Buck,” she pointed out. “Entities like the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department who many of Ed Buck’s victims said didn’t take their complaints about Ed Buck seriously.”

“But even though Ed Buck’s crimes have been made public throughout his trial, not much has changed.  The silence in Los Angeles’ is deafening.  If I wasn’t sitting in the courtroom myself, I probably wouldn’t know the trial was happening.  

There’s been no mention of the trial or justice for Ed Buck’s victims from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, California Democratic Party, Stonewall Democratic Club, or any of the dozens of elected officials he gave his money to,” she noted.

In a conversation with the Blade on Monday Cannick said that the next phase for her advocacy is to seek financial compensation for Buck’s victims. But beyond that is challenging community leaders and elected officials to address the very causes of what gave Buck ready access to the disadvantaged Black men in the first place; homelessness and helping the unhoused is her top priority.

She also serves now as an elected “At-Large” member of the leadership team of the Stonewall Democratic Club, the very place where Buck donated sums of money and rubbed elbows with Democratic Party leadership who gave Buck credibility and status.

For now there are some community leaders who are stepping up to acknowledge Cannick’s holding the receipts including the City Council and Mayor of West Hollywood who honoured her community work during a regularly scheduled Council meeting Monday.

West Hollywood Mayor Linsey Horvath tweeted afterwards, “Thank YOU for your fearless leadership in pursuit of truth and justice, @Jasmyne Our community is safer, and survivors have more confidence that they will be heard & believed, because of you.”

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