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JONESBORO, Ark. – Yesenia Hernandez believes those of any gender identity or sexual orientation should be provided equal employment opportunities by the City of Jonesboro.
“That’s just a basic civil right we should all have,” Hernandez said. “Many other cities across the State of Arkansas have passed resolutions similar to this. We talk about how Jonesboro has a problem with college students leaving – brain drain. This is one of the things that was brought up by Team Jonesboro, with Jonesboro moving ahead with the times. Having anti-discrimination laws should be a basic thing we have in Jonesboro.”
Her plan is to introduce a resolution to amend the City of Jonesboro’s employee handbook on February 18 at the Jonesboro City Council meeting. The resolution would ensure equal employment opportunities to protect gender identity and sexual orientation against discrimination.
“The resolution being introduced was also introduced in 2015 by Ryan Carter,” Hernandez said. “A coalition of students at Arkansas State University brought this resolution to city council. It wasn’t introduced the proper way and didn’t get seconded.”
As of right now, she says it is the exact same resolution.
She plans to ask several organizations for support, including NEA Pride – the group that she is also the leader of. If the organization’s executive board approves the resolution, Hernandez says NEA Pride as a group will introduce the resolution. The members also have to approve it at the next general meeting, which she said she has “no doubt” will happen.
The Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard rates Jonesboro (and Craighead County) as a 0 in all categories, attaining a 0/100. This scores the city, county, and state on:
- Non-discrimination laws
- The municipality as an employer offering protections/benefits to LGBTQ employees/businesses
- Municipal services including LGBTQ constituents
- Law enforcement fair reporting of hate crimes/LGBTQ engagement
- Leadership by the city to include the LGBTQ community
See the full report card here: MEI-2019-Jonesboro-Arkansas
Yesenia believes it is beyond time that the city protect people in the LGBTQ+ community.
“This doesn’t just affect hiring practices,” Hernandez said. “It also affects peoples abilities for promotions and that they can’t get fired for their gender identity or sexual orientations. we just want the same protections for the LGBT community as any other protected group.”
If passed, the resolution would affect practices within the city government. Private businesses would be unaffected.
The Resolution Itself
A RESOLUTION TO AMEND THE CITY OF JONESBORO EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
WHEREAS, the City of Jonesboro adopted its Employee Handbook by Resolution 12:064 in 2012; and
WHEREAS, a revision of Section I, Employment Policesis needed for the fair and impartial implementation of personnel policies.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF JONESBORO, ARKANSAS, THAT:
Section 1. Section I, Employment Polices – Equal Opportunity Employer section shall be amended as follows:
Equal Opportunity Employer
It is the continuing policy of the City of Jonesboro to ensure equal employment opportunity in all personnel actions taken. Our policy is stated as follows:
- Recruiting, hiring, training, and promoting for all jobs will be without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information, and will conform with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Decisions on employment will be based solely on the individual’s qualifications for the position being filled.
- Any promotional decisions will be based solely on the individual’s qualifications as related to the requirements of the position for which the individual is being considered.
- All other personnel actions, such as compensation, benefits, transfers, terminations, and layoffs, return from layoff, and training programs will be administered without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information.
- The Human Resources Director is responsible for this policy and for the necessary reporting and monitoring procedures associated with it. Any complaints should be directed to her attention. This policy may be periodically reviewed.
Section 2. Three (3) copies of the revised Section I, Equal Opportunity Employer section of the Employee Handbook shall be and hereafter kept on file in the Office of the City Clerk/Treasurer.
Section 3. All ordinances in conflict herewith are repealed to the extent of the conflict.