OHR testifies on compliance with Mayor's Order on Human Rights Act
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GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

TESTIMONY OF NADINE CHANDLER WILBURN
INTERIM DIRECTOR
OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

AGENCIES' COMPLIANCE WITH EXECUTIVE ORDER 2000-131
AS AMENDED BY EXECUTIVE ORDER 2002-146
OCTOBER 21, 2002, OVERSIGHT HEARING


GOOD MORNING COUNCILMEMBER GRAHAM, MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL, AND CITIZENS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. MY NAME IS NADINE WILBURN. I AM THE INTERIM DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS. IT IS A PLEASURE FOR ME TO GIVE TESTIMONY BEFORE YOU TODAY ON DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AGENCIES' COMPLIANCE WITH EXECUTIVE ORDER 2000-131. AS THE COUNCIL IS AWARE, EXECUTIVE ORDER 2000-131 WAS AMENDED EFFECTIVE AUGUST 26, 2002. THE PURPOSE OF THE AMENDMENT, AS WE DISCUSSED AT THE JULY 2002, OVERSIGHT HEARING, WAS TO NOTIFY THE PUBLIC AND GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES THAT SEXUAL HARASSMENT WAS ALSO PROHIBITED BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT.

AS THE COUNCIL WILL HEAR TODAY FROM 19 OTHER AGENCIES, MANY AGENCIES ARE EITHER IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH THE AMENDED EXECUTIVE ORDER OR HAVE SET DEFINATE TIME LINES BY WHICH THEY WILL COME INTO COMPLIANCE WITH THE EXECUTIVE ORDER. THIS IS CERTAILY PROGRESS FROM OUR JULY 2002, HEARING DURING WHICH I REPRORTED THAT MANY AGENCIES WERE NOT AWARE OF THE THEN TWO-YEAR-OLD EXECUTIVE ORDER 2000-131.

CURRENTLY ALL AGENCIES ARE NOT ONLY AWARE TO THE EXECUTIVE ORDER, THEY ARE ALSO AWARE OF THE AUGUST 2002, AMENDMENT TO THE ORDER TO INCLUDE THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT LANGUAGE, AND THEY ARE AWARE THAT THE ORDER IS AGAIN IN THE PROCESS OF BEING AMENDED TO COMPLY WITH THE OCTOBER 1, 2002, AMENDMENTS TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT. CONSISTENT WITH THE OCTOBER 1ST AMENDMENTS TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT, THE EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL BE AMENDED TO INCLUDE THAT IT IS UNLAWFUL TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS PERCEIVED TO BE IN ONE OF THE ACT'S PROTECTED CATEGORIES. THE ORDER WILL ALSO BE AMENDED TO INCLUDE THAT HARASSMENT BASED ON ANY OF THE ACT'S PROTECTED CATEGORIES IS ALSO PROHIBITED BY THE ACT. THE AMENDED EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL BECOME EFFECTIVE 30 DAYS AFTER THE MAYOR SIGNS THE ORDER, TO GIVE AGENCIES AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMPLY WITH THE ORDER.

THE OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS (OHR) IS PLEASED TO REPORT THAT IT HAS AMENDED MANY OF ITS POSTERS TO COMPLY WITH THE OCTOBER 1, 2002, AMENDMENTS TO THE ACT. THESE POSTERS WERE RECEIVED BY THE OHR FROM THE PRINTERS LAST WEEK AND THE OHR HAS ALREADY STARTED DISTRIBUTING THEM TO AGENCIES FOR PLACEMENT AT THEIR WORK SITES. IN ADDITION TO ITS POSTERS, THE OHR HAS ALSO PLACED THE NON-DISCRIMINATION LANGUAGE ON ITS COMPLAINT FORMS, AS WELL AS, OTHER INFORMATIONAL MATERIAL, WHICH DESCRIBE THE FUNCTION OF THE OHR.

THE OHR IS THE AGENCY CHARGED WITH ENSURING THAT OTHER AGENCIES ARE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE EXECUTIVE ORDER. TO FULFULL THIS ROLE AND IN PREPARATION FOR THIS HEARING, THE OHR REQUESTED THAT AGENCIES DELIVER TO THE OHR BY OCTOBER 7, 2002, COPIES OF ITS DOCUMENTS WHICH DEPICT THAT AGENCIES ARE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE EXECUTIVE ORDER. MANY AGENCIES HAVE FULFILLED THAT OGLIGATION. I AM HAPPY TO LEAVE COPIES OF THOSE DOCUMENTS FOR REVIEW BY THE COUNCIL AND FOR THE RECORD.

MR. CRAIG HOWELL DID BRING ONE INSTANCE OF NON-COMPLIANCE TO MY ATTENTION AND TO THE AGENCEY'S ATTENTION IN EARLY OCTOBER 2002. THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES (DHS) LISTED ONLY FEDERAL PROTECTED CATEGORIES IN A DOCUMENT WHICH WAS RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN THE DC REGISTER. BOTH MR. HOWEL AND I FOLLOWED UP WITH THE PROPER REPRESENTATIVES AT DHS WHO IMMEDIATELY KNEW OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE EXERCUTIVE ORDER AND WHO TOOK STEPS TO REMEDY THE OVERSIGHT. DESPITE THE OVERSIGHT IN THAT ONE PARTICULAR NOTICE, THE DHS HAD MANY OTHER DOCUMENTS, WHICH IN FACT COMPLIED WITH THE EXECUTIVE ORDER.

THE OHR WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR AGENCIES' COMPLIANCE WITH THE EXECUTIVE ORDER ANNUALLY AND EXPECT THAT COMMITMENT AND FUNCTION TO BE BETTER STAFFED WITH THE HIRING OF A COMPLAINCE OFFICER IN NOVEMBER 2002, WHO WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT AGENCIES ARE IN COMPLIANCE THIS AND OTHER EXECUTIVE ORDERS.

I AM HAPPY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THAT YOU MAY HAVE AT THIS TIME.


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