The city commission on Tuesday rebuffed an attempt to change the city’s hiring policy to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mike Herman, chair of the Flint Hills Human Rights Project, spoke during the public comment period of the commission meeting about placing sexual orientation and gender identity among other non-discrimination items in the policy such as race, age and religion.
“As part of our mission, we’re concerned about potential discrimination in hiring policies, organizations and government entities in our area,” he said.
Herman mentioned Kansas State University and USD 383 include sexual orientation and gender identity protection in their hiring policies.
Herman said city staff assured the group there’s no discrimination in hiring, so he thinks there shouldn’t be a problem putting it into writing.
“Without such protections, we don’t know what problems we might have because there are no mechanisms for people who are discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and gender identity to report these things,” he said.
Herman mentioned recent action taken in an attempt to get this into the city’s policy.
The human rights project attended Human Rights and Services Board meetings in December and March to ask them to recommend the city take a look at the policy.
As a result of those meetings, board chair Mary Beth Reese requested in a letter that the city commission review the hiring policy.
City commissioners didn’t indicate enough interest among their members to move forward with adding to the policy at a March briefing session prior to a commission meeting.
At least three commissioners need to agree on an item to place it on the city agenda.
The Human Rights and Services Board discussed a response letter from city manager Ron Fehr during their next meeting, which was June 26.
Mayor Wynn Butler said Tuesday the commission felt there was no evidence of a problem with the city’s hiring practices.
“By tinkering with it, we could inadvertently cause a problem,” he said.
Herman said commissioners will hear from many people who feel this hiring policy needs the addition.
“We respectfully encourage you to reconsider reviewing this policy to add these protections that other government entities in our area have saw fit to include in their hiring practices,” he said.
The commission didn’t make any commitments Tuesday to reviewing this policy further.