Scottsdale adopts anti-discrimination ordinance

The Scottsdale City Council tonight voted unanimously to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

The ordinance represents the city of Scottsdale’s commitment to anti-discrimination and fair treatment of residents, visitors and employees in the Scottsdale community, and the City Council’s support and value for diversity and inclusiveness.

The ordinance provides a clear and comprehensive mandate for the prevention of discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodation, and city services, programs and activities. The ordinance provides a mechanism for responding to complaints and violators are subject to civil prosecution.

“Tonight’s passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance confirms our commitment to a Scottsdale that is inclusive of all people," said Mayor David D. Ortega. "No matter who you are or who you love, you are welcome in Scottsdale."

The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days (May 20, 2021).

Read Ordinance No. 4497 here (PDF).

The questions and answers below explain specific facets of the ordinance and address questions received by the city.

What does Ordinance No. 4497 do?

The anti-discrimination ordinance includes local businesses and employers and requires their compliance with the law. It provides a mechanism for responding to complaints of discrimination. Finally, if discrimination occurs, violators would be subject to civil prosecution. It also expands coverage of current anti-discrimination policies to elected and appointed officials, and contractors, vendors and consultants who do work on behalf of the city. 

What groups are protected under the new ordinance?

The anti-discrimination ordinance prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or disability.

Is there data that shows how many people have been discriminated against in Scottsdale?

There are no official records that capture the count or frequency of discrimination, as it is currently not illegal in Scottsdale.  However, the city has received reports of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, including: 

  • December 2018 – assault and harassment based on sexual orientation at a bar in Scottsdale
  • March 2019 –reports or discriminatory comments based on sex, sexual orientation and race/ethnicity at a Scottsdale event
  • Fall 2019 – report of discrimination based on gender identity at a school in Scottsdale
  • February 2020 – report of harassment at a bar in Scottsdale based on a perception of sexual orientation
  • August 2020 – report of harassment based on sexual orientation at a restaurant in Scottsdale
Why is age defined as only those over age 40?

This is consistent with state and federal age discrimination laws which cover those aged 40 and over.

I run a family-owned business – can I still hire a family member or friend of the family?

 Yes. A family-owned business may hire a family member or a friend of the family – provided there is no competitive hiring process, i.e. the job opening is not advertised to the public. 

I’m concerned with how this ordinance will infringe on my religious rights. I have personal religious beliefs when it comes to who I want to hire, provide services to, or lease to. How will this impact me as a business owner?

The ordinance will be interpreted in a manner consistent with free exercise of religion, as well as other First Amendment freedoms. Religion is also a protected class throughout – so a person cannot be discriminated against based on their religion. Similar to a family-owned business, an individual may hire someone of their own religion, or limit real estate transactions to persons of their religion, provided there is no competitive process, i.e. the job opening is not advertised to the public, or the real estate listing is not advertised to the public.

How are religious organizations impacted by the ordinance?

The ordinance will be interpreted in a manner consistent with free exercise of religion, as well as other First Amendment freedoms. Religion is also a protected class throughout – so a person cannot be discriminated against based on their religion. In addition, it would not be considered discrimination for religious organizations to give preference in hiring someone of their religion to perform religious work, or to limit real estate transactions to persons of their religion. Religious organizations, when providing services to the public, may not discriminate on the basis of a protected class. The ordinance will also be interpreted consistent with the Arizona Constitution and Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act, which provide religious freedom protections.

Are there any issues pertaining to restrooms/locker rooms if this ordinance is enacted?

The ordinance does not address the issue of restrooms and locker rooms. Nothing in the ordinance would prohibit a business from posting such facilities for men only, or for women only, or having gender neutral facilities. Nothing about this ordinance changes the fact that it is illegal to enter a restroom or facility to harm or harass people or invade their privacy. People in Scottsdale currently must choose which restroom or similar facility to use and one would assume they choose the facility associated with the gender with which they identify.  Nothing in the ordinance would change that. 

Will this ordinance be applicable to school facilities and programs?

State law prohibits cities from regulating public and charter schools. Private schools would only be subject to the ordinance’s provisions regarding employment and public accommodation.

I rent a room in my home – can I still choose who I want to live with?

Yes. The ordinance does not apply to the selection of persons to reside within a dwelling or portion of a dwelling occupied by the person making the selection.

Are businesses open to the public required to serve all customers?

Non-Religious businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms. If a business chooses to provide goods and services to the public, they should be sold to everyone equally.

If you have questions about the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, please send them to feedback@ScottsdaleAZ.gov.

 

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