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Council discusses 'gender identity' regarding personnel policy coverage

Cary Ashby • May 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM

A proposed amendment that would have added the phrase “gender identity” to the sex discrimination portion of the city of Norwalk’s personnel policy on harassment was defeated Tuesday.

City council defeated the amendment proposed by at-large Councilman Jordy Horowitz with a 4-3 vote. Horowitz, Chris Castle and Dave Wallace voted in favor of it.

Council was having its first reading of the proposed ordinance to amend and update the personnel policy manual as it relates to harassment. The proposed update to the policy includes “all forms of harassment” and covers how the complaint and appeal processes are handled.

Before Tuesday’s vote on the amendment, Horowitz said including the phrase “gender identity” to the portion on sex discrimination is relevant language. Castle agreed, saying it’s an issue that is part of a national discussion now and “gender identity” covers more than sexual orientation.

Norwalk Law Director Stuart O’Hara said adding the phrase “gender identity” isn’t necessary under the legal definition of sex discrimination because it is covered as part of the way “sex” is defined. He cited a March 7 ruling by the Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Norwalk is in the jurisdiction of that court.

“The term ‘sex’ includes all those things,” O’Hara said after Tuesday’s meeting. “It becomes redundant. The question becomes where do you start.”

Since there are dozens of terms that refer to some form of gender identity, the law director said “sex includes all that.”

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