Baton Rouge Civil Rights Ordinance
All citizens should be able to earn a living, have a place to live, and be served as anyone else by a business or government office.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Civil Rights Commission?
The Civil Rights Commission (CRC) will be created under the Civil Rights Ordinance to serve as a resource to the public on discrimination related to employment, housing, or public accommodation, based on the following: race, color, sex, disability, age, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political or religious affiliation . The CRC will achieve this goal by: (1) educating the public on what discrimination is and what their rights are when it comes to discrimination; and (2) serving as a point of contact in the event that a person feels they have experienced discrimination and would like to do something about it. Sometimes, in a general
sense, the CRC may be able to serve as a voice for those in our community who are most vulnerable to discrimination by advising and providing information to the Metropolitan Council on issues related to discrimination protections and equal opportunity.
Who makes up the Civil Rights Commission?
A Civil Rights Commission (CRC) will be created under the Civil Rights Ordinance to serve as a resource to the public on discrimination. The CRC will achieve this goal by: (1) educating the public on what discrimination is and what their rights are when it comes to discrimination; and (2) serving as a point of contact in the event that a person feels they have experienced discrimination
and would like to do something about it. Sometimes, in a general sense, the CRC may be able to serve as a voice for those in our community who are most vulnerable to discrimination by advising and providing information to the Metropolitan Council on issues related to discrimination protections and equal opportunity.
How long does each CRC member serve? Would they need a budget?
The length of service for each appointee shall be two years with a limit of two terms. All members of the CRC would serve strictly on a volunteer basis, so there is no budget necessary for salaries. However, the CRC will be able to apply for and accept grants, gifts, and bequests, public or private, to fund any activities.
Are any parts of the Civil Rights Ordinance redundant with other state and/or federal acts? Are these types of discrimination not covered at the state level?
There are currently no local laws within East Baton Rouge to protect people from discrimination in matters of employment or public accommodation, and local laws that protect against housing discrimination do not apply to LGBTQ citizens. Local cases of discrimination are covered by state and federal law. However, these state and federal laws that cover discrimination do not explicitly
cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
How is discrimination currently reported?
Currently, if a person is discriminated against, they can file suit in state or federal court or contact other state and federal agencies, such as the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is a problem because: (1) state and federal laws do not include LGBTQ citizens; (2) this process often takes time, money, and resources that many people do not have; and (3) most people are unaware of how this process works and either make incorrect claims or miss an opportunity to have their claim addressed.
How would discrimination be reported under this ordinance?
If a person believes they have been discriminated against by a business, employer, or landlord located in East Baton Rouge, they would contact the CRC. At that time, the CRC would provide the complainant with information on what options they have to resolve their complaint. If the complainant so chooses, the complaint will undergo the screening process so that it may be determined if the case can be referred to another agency at the state or federal level, or if mediation can be coordinated between the complainant and the alleged violator.
What about the rights of the business owner or landlord against whom a complaint is filed ?
All claims will undergo the screening procedure, which is a neutral and impartial process that serves the purpose of eliminating any cases that do not truly meet the criteria for discrimination as laid out by this ordinance. If the CRC member reviewing the complaint determines that the case does meet the criteria laid out by the ordinance, they will not side with either party and will try to make the best recommendation for a fair and impartial process, whether that means mediation or taking the case to a more appropriate body. This entire process will also be kept confidential to the best of the CRC’s ability so as to not damage the reputation of either party.
How does the commission decide if a complaint is discrimination or not?
The CRC will not make any determinations as to whether discrimination took place; it will only determine whether the case meets the criteria laid out by the ordinance and work out a process to address the complaint in a way that is fair to both sides. The commission will not take sides, it will simply ensure that anyone who feels they have experienced discrimination is able to make an
informed decision on how to move forward. At most, the commission will process complaints for the purpose of providing mediation between the two parties.
Will there be fines?
There will be no fines levied by this commission.
Do we really need another commission or governmental entity for something like this?
We absolutely do! There are currently 44 boards and commissions in East Baton Rouge that exist to serve the public and make our city-parish the best that it can be. The CRC would educate the Metropolitan Council on the experiences of marginalized people in our community while at the same time educating the public on what discrimination is and is not. In dealing with discrimination,
it will help provide options to victims but will also help ensure people are not taking advantage of the law. Overall, the CRC will improve life and work in Baton Rouge because it will make dealing with discrimination easier and more efficient.