Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How Many Complaints Does It Take to Get to the Center?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 8:05 AM

With a number of Nashville business, religious and conservative people and elected officials wringing their hands over the Metro Council bill that would extend workplace protections to the GLBT community, we thought it might be useful to find out how much upheaval the 2009 law covering city employees has caused. Maybe David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee was right when he wrote two days ago:

Among other reasons, it is more regulation of business and more regulation inevitability leads to businesses having to spend money to comply with those regulations and, in this instance, increases the risk of being sued. The costs of compliance and litigation and any increase in insurance premiums to protect against the risk of that litigation will be passed on to consumers. In this case, the consumer is Metro government with whom these businesses will be contracting. And, of course, taxpayers are the ones who pay Metro government’s bills.

Fowler's right about the cost risks associated with being sued, of course, and he's also correct that passing those costs on to the consumer could result in jacked-up prices for Metro. But Fowler and the others arguing this line really need a few facts to come through on that lingering threat of action from GLBT people who suddenly can report discrimination at work. Will they?

Setting aside the bizarre assumption on Fowler's part that the businesses on his "side" of this debate are currently engaging in so much discrimination against GLBT people that they'll face a flurry of lawsuits once it becomes illegal, Pith decided to use the best metric available to determine whether Nashville's GLBTs would start suing the minute this sucker goes into law.

According to Metro Human Resources, since the law started covering GLBT city workers in November 2009, there has been one (1) complaint — that didn't pass legal muster. To wit:

After careful review of the facts presented, Human Resources did not identify evidence of conduct in violation of Metropolitan Ordinance No. BL2009-502, or Title VII or Civil Service Rules and Policies.

That one (1) is in a pretty deep pool, too: According to the mayor's office, there are 10,694 Metro employees and an additional 12,078 in Metro schools.

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