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LA City expands anti-discrimination enforcement in employment

Brings greater justice for job bias

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Workers and civil rights advocates gathered on the City Hall South Steps with Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson. (Photo courtesy Wesson’s Office)

News that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up three cases centered on LGBT rights in the workplace was jarring, considering the conservative bent the Court has taken under President Trump.

This fall, the Court will hear arguments over whether Title VII, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace, protects LGBT employees, according to the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.   

 “Millions of LGBT people now rely on those federal protections, and countless businesses across the country have changed their policies to protect LGBT workers,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter in a press release. “A Supreme Court decision reversing these established protections would be catastrophic for LGBT people and disruptive for businesses, who would face a patchwork of conflicting state laws.”

No doubt LGBT Californians, living in arguably the most progressive state in the nation, feel protected on the job. But awareness and enforcement of non-discrimination laws are not universal nor uniform, especially given the intersectional bias experienced by LGBT people of color.       

It’s an issue Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmember Gil Cedillo took up last year after members of the Los Angeles Black Workers Center pointed out that seeking a remedy for discrimination on the job was just too costly for low income workers.

“A disproportionately high number of Blacks were and have been facing employment discrimination in the city of Los Angeles,” Jasmyne Cannick, senior advisor to Council President Wesson, told the Los Angeles Blade. “This caused the BWC to take up this issue.”

“Currently, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing is the state agency that is the first line of defense for individuals to report claims of discrimination in the workplace,” according to the LA Black Workers Center. “However, in 2016, the Department received nearly 24,000 complaints, 86% of which alleged employment discrimination. With this volume, the Department, acting alone, is not adequately funded and staffed to be the only recourse of defense against housing and workplace discrimination. In addition, confronting workplace discrimination in the judicial system is too costly for most low-wage workers. Without local enforcement, employee complaints are going unaddressed.”

Introduced on Jan. 26, 2018, the Civil and Human Rights Ordinance, co-authored by Wesson and Cedillo, was stringently vetted by LA City Attorney Mike Feuer and the Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity Committee before the amended ordinance was passed 12-0-3 by the City Council on April 17.  Both out Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Mitch O’Farrell were absent for the vote that day.

The Ordinance will be added to the City’s administrative and municipal codes and establishes a Civil and Human Rights Commission and Executive Director, giving the City expanded authority to raise awareness about, oversee and enforce discrimination cases within its boundaries, better enabling lower-paid, black and other minority workers the ability to seek recourse for injustices they face in the workplace.

“WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles, with its diverse population, wishes to establish public policy that promotes understanding between and among communities and to discourage discrimination that denies equal treatment to any individual because of an immutable characteristic or real or perceived status,” the Ordinance says before explaining its reach. (The Civil and Human Rights Ordinance is available as a PDF online here.)

“With this vote, we are prioritizing vital protections for LA’s black and brown workers, including women, immigrants, those who identify as LGBTQ, and Muslims,” Wesson said in a statement. “Employment should be based on a person’s merit, experience, and character, not the color of their skin, where they’re from, or who they love. A big thank you to the Los Angeles Black Worker Center for their work in getting us to this point.”

“This ordinance is designed to discourage human and civil rights violations from occurring at a local level in the City of Los Angeles and also to provide the necessary structures and remedies for the everyday resident to seek assistance should they find themselves in a position of discrimination and vulnerability,” said Cedillo. “This commission will include an Executive Director and hearing officers to ensure that each case is given the proper resources and attention it deserves.”

Wesson communications deputy Michael Tonetti notes that there is a bill winding its way through the California State Legislature that would grant local governments greater enforcement jurisdiction dealing with employment discrimination—SB 218, authored by Sen. Steven Bradford (amended on April 9). But right now, under the current California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the new Commission created by the Ordinance “will be able to address discrimination complaints related to the four protected classes in the proposed City Civil and Human Rights Law including: 1) citizenship status; 2) partnership status; 3) veteran status; and 4) employment and income status.” 

Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the Ordinance.

“Equality and belonging are values that define what it means to be an Angeleno,” Garcetti said in a statement. “We will not waver in protecting equal opportunity, rejecting bigotry, and rooting out discrimination wherever it may exist in Los Angeles. City Hall must lead by example, and I thank Council President Wesson and Councilmember Cedillo for their tireless advocacy on these issues of critical importance.”

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Ventura County

Newsom appoints Vianey Lopez to Ventura County Board

Lopez has a lengthy track record in progressive issues including her outspoken support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights

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Vianey Lopez (center) with the late Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez (L) (Photo Credit: Vianey Lopez/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he has appointed City of Oxnard Councilmember Vianey Lopez to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to the seat left vacant by the sudden death of the beloved chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez, killed in an August traffic accident.

Lopez, 35, a resident of Oxnard, has been a city councilmember for District Six since 2018 and also serves as a District Director for California State Senator Monique Limón since 2020.

According to her campaign for reelection to city council biography, Lopez immigrated to the U.S. at the young age of 4. As one of the youngest of 11 children, there were opportunities she was afforded that her siblings did not have. Raised locally, Vianey attended kindergarten through middle school in the Hueneme Elementary School District before graduating from Hueneme High School in 2005.

Councilmember, now Supervisor Lopez has a lengthy track record in progressive issues including her outspoken support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights as well as other key issues including LGBTQ+ equality, immigrant rights, and has worked for several California political leaders including a stint as District Scheduler for former U.S. Representative Lois Capps from 2013 to 2016, a member of the House from 1998 to 2017 representing California’s 24th congressional district.

Lopez was a Program Coordinator for the Oxnard Downtown Management District from 2012 to 2013 and an Administrative Assistant and Concierge at the Oxnard Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2009 to 2010. She is a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens and Future Leaders of America.

Lopez earned a Master of Public Policy degree in International Relations and State and Local Policy from Pepperdine University.

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Southern California

Triple A: SoCal gas prices race up by double digits in one week

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.52, which is eight cents higher than last week

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Photo Credit: Auto Club of Southern California

LOS ANGELES – Reports of additional Southern California refinery issues, along with continued low inventories, have created the biggest one-week price jump at the pump since early June, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.52, which is eight cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.68, which is two cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.59 per gallon, which is 17 cents higher than last week, 25 cents higher than last month, and $1.19 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.53, which is 15 cents higher than last week, 24 cents higher than last month, and $1.18 higher than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.53, which is eight cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month and $1.18 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.44, which is 14 cents higher than last week, 23 cents higher than last month and $1.12 higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.46 average price is eight cents higher than last Thursday, three cents higher than last month and $1.10 higher than a year ago today.

“Oil Price Information Service reports that several local refineries are undergoing unplanned maintenance as fuel inventories are at their lowest levels in a decade, which caused Los Angeles wholesale gas prices to rise sharply this week,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Sept. 22, averages are:

Sept 22 22
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California

Newsom signs legislation to support California Native communities

Advances equity, inclusion and highlights the unique history, culture and government of tribes in the Golden State

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Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Today on Native American Day, Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities and build on the Administration’s work to promote equity, inclusion and accountability throughout the state.

AB 1314 establishes a statewide emergency alert system for missing Native people 

In a ceremony joined by leaders of Native American tribes from across California, the Governor signed AB 1314 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) to help address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Native people from communities across the country.

Under AB 1314, local law enforcement will be able to request that the California Highway Patrol activate an emergency Feather Alert, similar to an Amber or Silver alert, to assist in search efforts for a Native person who has been reported missing under suspicious circumstances.

“As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities,” said Governor Newsom. “Today’s measures continue to move these efforts forward, including a new emergency alert system that will provide us with additional critical tools needed to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. I thank all the legislators and tribal partners whose leadership and advocacy help light the path forward in our work to build a better, stronger and more just state together.”

Governor signs AB 1314 alongside Assemblymember Ramos, Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider and leaders of Native American tribes from across the state (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“AB 1314 will help us get the word out sooner when an individual is missing or endangered, enlisting the help of the public for tips and leads as soon as possible when quick action is critical,” said Assemblymember Ramos. “I thank the Governor for signing this vital measure – creating an alert system was a top recommendation from tribal leaders for addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.”

The state budget this year invests $12 million over three years to fund tribally-led programs to help address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People on tribal lands. This investment built on last year’s investment of $5 million to fund training and guidance for law enforcement agencies and tribal governments to improve public safety on tribal lands and study challenges related to the reporting and identification of missing and murdered Native peoples, particularly women and girls.

AB 1936 re-designates UC Hastings College of the Law and advances restorative justice efforts for Native peoples who suffered mass killings orchestrated by the college’s founder

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1936 by Assemblymember Ramos, which re-designates the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law as the College of the Law, San Francisco and advances restorative justice efforts for Round Valley Indian Tribes and Yuki people whose ancestors suffered mass killings and other atrocities funded and supported by college founder Serranus Hastings in the mid-19th century. 

AB 1936 also outlines several restorative justice initiatives that the College intends to pursue, such as renaming the law library with a Native language name, annually reading a statement of the atrocities Hastings committed against the Yuki people and providing collaborative opportunities for Round Valley tribal students to gain debate and writing experience, among other efforts.  

AB 2022 will remove the racist and sexist slur squaw from all geographic features and place names in California

Under AB 2022 by Assemblymember Ramos, the racist and sexist term “squaw” will be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, and a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names will be created. This comes on the heels of federal action this month to complete the removal of this slur from nearly 650 geographic features across the country, including several name changes advanced by California based on extensive tribal engagement. The Newsom Administration has launched a series of ongoing actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems.   

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1703 by Assemblymember Ramos, the California Indian Education Act. The measure encourages local educational agencies and charter schools to form California Indian Education Task Forces in partnership with local tribes to develop curricular materials that highlight the unique history, culture and government of tribes in their region.

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