Connect with us

homepage news

LA City expands anti-discrimination enforcement in employment

Brings greater justice for job bias

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

a&e features

NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony

Published

on

Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer

Published

on

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

Continue Reading

Health

HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”

Published

on

HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
 
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
 
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular