At the request of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove has withdrawn the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance that would provide inclusive workplace protections for City of Memphis employees.
According to TEP, their request and the subsequent withdrawl of the ordinance will curb any potential bad publicity for the Memphis City Government, whose tepid response to the ordinance had caused concern for the organization.
The Memphis City Council's personnel committee had planned to discuss the tabled non-discrimination resolution today, followed by a second reading of the ordinance this afternoon. A third reading would have been required for the ordinance to pass.
Traditionally, the Council waits for the third reading to debate ordinances and opens the floor for public comment from citizens for input, but the ordinance experienced resistance from the beginning.
On the first of three readings of the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance (ENDO) on Aug. 10, Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware objected to the inclusion of the ENDO and threatened to vote against the entire consent agenda if it was not voted on separately.
After the ENDO was knocked out of the consent agenda, a substitute ordinance was introduced that failed to provide sufficient protection, according to TEP.
In their official statement, TEP said they "(do) not believe that Memphis City Government is serious about making Memphis a real City of Choice for all job seekers, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Memphis will be considered a City of Exclusion as long as its citizens are treated with disrespect and fear. TEP looks forward to returning to the Mayor and the City Council with legislation protecting all employees from unfair discrimination when a fair hearing is possible."
The city of Nashville passed a similar ordinance last September, making it unlawful to discriminate against a worker on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.