MIDWAY — This Woodford County city took the first step Monday toward becoming the eighth in Kentucky to adopt an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
A second reading and vote on the anti-bias or "fairness" ordinance is set for June 1, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said. There was no vote at Monday's meeting.
Lexington, Louisville, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead, Danville and Vicco in Perry County have passed similar laws.
It is the Midway council's practice that there is no discussion among members on a pending ordinance until the second reading. But Vandegrift allowed council member Libby Warfield to ask questions about the proposed ordinance.
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A business with eight or fewer employees would be exempt from the provisions about unlawful practices in employment, city attorney Phil Moloney and other council members told Warfield. Similar language is in anti-bias ordinances passed by other cities,
Under the ordinance, complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity would go to the mayor or a person designated by the mayor.
The mayor may attempt to negotiate a settlement between the disputing parties. If a settlement is not reached, the mayor will conduct an investigation to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the allegations.
If there is no probable cause that a discriminatory action occurred, the mayor shall dismiss the complaint.
If probable cause is found, the mayor shall try to eliminate the alleged violation by a conciliation agreement.
In the event of an unwillingness to participate in a conciliation process or no conciliation agreement is reached, the mayor shall refer the complaint to an administrative hearing.
Anyone found to have violated the ordinance may face civil penalties of $100 to $500.
An aggrieved party may appeal the decision to the city council and, if it is affirmed there, to Woodford Circuit Court.
In response to a question by Warfield, Vandegrift said some Midway residents have volunteered to donate money to a restricted fund so the city would not have to pay to defend itself in an appeal. After the meeting, Vandegrift estimated the number of people who would donate is more than five.
The ordinance exempts religious institutions or organizations operated for charitable or educational purposes that are owned, operated, controlled by or affiliated with a religious institution, association, society or entity.