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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 8, 2006

State workers to get job protections back

Strickland will sign new version of 1983 anti-bias order

Columbus--Soon after he is sworn in next month, Governor-elect Ted Strickland will sign an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination and harassment for sexual orientation.

The measure will restore protections dropped by Gov. Bob Taft when he took office in 1999. The rule is needed because Ohio has no law against such discrimination.

Transition spokesperson Keith Dailey said Strickland will sign the order, but stopped short of saying when, or how it would be worded. Dailey also did not say whether or not the measure would also bar discrimination by gender identity.

Dailey said the transition team will be developing the initial orders and directives for the incoming administration this month, and that the wording will be drafted during that process.

The order, limited to state employees, will become an enforceable administrative rule, though it is not law.

The original order was signed in 1983 by then-Gov. Richard Celeste. It remained in effect through the administration of George Voinovich, until his successor Taft let it expire on his first day.

Ten Ohio cities and two counties have similar rules for their employees, as do 87 other employers headquartered in the state, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Dailey says the order is consistent with the philosophy Strickland and Lt. Governor-elect Lee Fisher have laid out for the transition and administration, which is �guided by diversity� to reflect openness and inclusion.

That principle, according to Dailey, has also led to three gay and lesbian community members being appointed as transition leaders.

The leaders will head teams that will evaluate budgets, regulations, and the performance of the state�s boards, agencies, and commissions, and prepare reports for the new administration.

Patrick Shepherd, associate director of the Cleveland Film Society, will coordinate the team evaluating the Ohio Arts Council.

Columbus City Council member Mary Jo Hudson will head the team evaluating the Department of Insurance.

Cheri Walters of Columbus, director of the Ohio Association of Behavioral Health Authorities, will coordinate the Department of Youth Services review team.

Dailey said he didn�t know if there are any HIV positive people among the teams evaluating the Department of Health or any other department.

Transition team members signed a code of conduct restricting, though not prohibiting, their comments to the media.

Shepherd said he�s �glad to participate on the Strickland-Fisher transition team, and help them lay the foundation for a successful administration.�

Hudson could not be reached for comment, and Walters did not return calls by press time.

Dailey said that there is opportunity for all Ohioans to contribute to the transition process through the committee�s website, http://govelect.ohio.gov. R�sum�s for anyone wanting to work for the Strickland administration can be submitted through the website, as may comments, ideas, and information for the transition teams to consider.

Dailey said everything submitted is reviewed and directed to the appropriate people.

 

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