Summersgill writes Mayor on failures to obey executive order on non-discrimination statements
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DC Human Rights Law

GLAA on Human Rights

Summersgill writes Mayor on failures to obey executive order on non-discrimination statements

July 12, 2001

Mayor Anthony Williams
One Judiciary Square
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mayor Williams:

On August 21, 2000, you issued Order 2000-131 mandating that all equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies and other kinds of anti-discrimination statements issued by District government departments and agencies must list all the classes that are protected by the D.C. Human Rights Act.

That request was made because we identified three instances in the previous six months where the District Government failed to properly include the full list of protected categories of the Human Rights Act in rules published in the DC Register.

Unfortunately, your Order has not been obeyed in three more instances: (1) the Memorandum of Agreement between the Metropolitan Police Department and the Justice Department on the use of deadly force; (2) a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" from the Child and Family Services Agency, Department of Human Services; and (3) the Board of Education's "Notice of Final Rulemaking" for "Chapter 9, Public Charter School Policies."

(1) In the most disturbing case, the June 13, 2001 Memorandum of Agreement between the Metropolitan Police Department and the Justice Department on the use of deadly force listed only seven categories of people under which investigations for discrimination should take place instead of the fifteen listed in the Human Rights Act and in your Order. One of the listed categories, gender, is neither in DC or Federal non-discrimination laws. Corporation Counsel Robert Rigsby signed this MOA. Mr. Rigsby is fully aware of the Executive Order and the Human Rights Act as he met with members of GLAA, Director of the Office of Human Rights Charles Holman and several Corporation Counsel lawyers to discuss the draft Order which the Corporation Counsel lawyers initially and incorrectly found to be invalid.

MPD Chief Charles Ramsey agreed with GLAA members that paragraph 72 section e of the MOA should include all of the categories and has promised a supplemental companion letter to amend the MOA to include all fifteen categories.

(2) GLAA previously identified the incomplete statement of non-discrimination in the "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" from the Child and Family Services Agency, Department of Human Services, on "Licensing of Youth Shelters, Runaway Shelters, Emergency Care Facilities, and Youth Group Homes," printed in the May 11 issue of the DC Register (pages 4188-4258).

Section 6203 (page 4192) is a "Statement of Residents' Rights and Responsibilities," designed to be posted prominently within each youth residential facility. The statement was clearly well intentioned, but it failed to simply follow the law and enumerate all of the categories of the Human Rights Act.

Mr. Holman has made arrangements for this to be corrected by Deputy Mayor Carolyn Graham's Office.

(3) Likewise GLAA identified the mistake that appears in the Board of Education's "Notice of Final Rulemaking" for "Chapter 9, Public Charter School Policies," published in the February 23, 2001 edition of the D.C. Register.

Section 915 deals with "Admissions." Subsection 915.2 reads, in relevant part: "A public charter school may not limit enrollment on the basis of a student's race, color, religion, national origin, language spoken, intellectual or athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or status as a student with special needs."

While obviously well intentioned, it also fails to properly list the required categories. The School Board voted on May 16, 2001 to correct this language.

Unfortunately, at no point in the drafting or promulgating these rules was the Office of Human Rights ever contacted to insure that the non-discrimination language was legal and correct. According to point three of your Order:

"The Director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, or the designee thereof, is authorized and directed to implement this Order and to monitor the compliance of executive departments and agencies with its directives."

The failure to involve the Office of Human Rights in the early stages of these rules and the MOA demonstrates a failure in implementing the Order.

The Corporation Counsel has demonstrated either an incompetence to enforce the Human Rights Act, or a willful disregard for the Act itself.

As I recently testified before the Judiciary Committee of the DC Council, the Corporation Counsel has a conflict of interest in enforcing the Human Rights Act in that they must simultaneously enforce the Act and defend the City against claims under it. As such, they seem to be taking every opportunity to undermine the law, instead of interpreting the law broadly and enforcing it aggressively as the Council intended when they passed the bill in 1977. The Committee report says that the eradication of discrimination is the District is a goal of the "highest priority."

Therefore we request that you direct the Corporation Counsel to comply with your Order 2000-131. Further your office needs to establish an internal process for the Office of Human Rights to approve all job postings, equal employment opportunity notices, general orders, departmental directives, special instructions and materials processed through the Administrative Issuance System for compliance with the Order.

Such a review may require additional staffing at the Office of Human Rights. Accordingly, we recommend that at least one full time lawyer position be moved from the Office of the Corporation Counsel to the Office of Human Rights for this purpose.

Thank you. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Bob Summersgill
President

Cc: All DC Councilmembers
Robert Rigsby, Corporation Counsel
Charles Holman, Office of Human Rights
Chief Charles Ramsey, Metropolitan Police Department


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