Committee recommends change to city's employment policy - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

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Committee recommends change to city's employment policy

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Waco may be just the sixth city in Texas to add equal opportunity employment protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

There are currently only five cities in Texas that offers this type of employment protection. The short list of cities includes Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

Friday, Waco's Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee voted unanimously to approve the change to the city's equal employee opportunity policy. It would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes in the city's manual and would only apply to city employees.

That means city employers couldn't discriminate against gays or transgender.

Local LGBT activist Carmen Saenz says, "I have never had a problem with any employer but the people that are feeling discriminated against because there's no protection. [They] are not really going to come out to their employer especially if they think their employer is not LGBT friendly."

Currently, state non-discrimination laws don't address either one of those and local social activists are speaking out.  

"The EEOAC considered all the facts and made a decision to recommend that all city employees regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated fairly and all employees should be treated fairly and all employees should be treated fairly, just because it's the right thing to do," said Saenz.

Not everyone is on board. Local attorney, Jon Ker also spoke at the EEO Advisory Committee meeting Friday and says he doesn't think the city should change the policy.

"First of all and probably the most important thing is that is that it's just not necessary," said Ker. "Waco is Waco is a good town, it's a tolerant town and there is no evidence of any discrimination based upon sexual orientation taking place anywhere in the city. We don't need to fix something that's not happening."

Friday's vote was just the first step in the process. The EEO Advisory Committee has sent their recommendation to the city attorney. 

If the city attorney gives the ok, it will then have to be by approved by the city manager.

"[If passed] I think it would say a lot about Waco especially because Waco is trying its best to look to the future and I think that's a good thing. The more it could do to make everybody feel apart of the Waco community regardless of any other characteristic I think the stronger Waco will be going into the future. And certainly whatever the city government does sort of sets an example and kind of makes a statement for the city as a whole."

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