Austin, Texas (June 23, 2010) – Equality Texas applauds Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) for including gender identity in its existing Non-Discrimination Employment Policy Statement. With a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the DART Board of Directors included a provision to explicitly prohibit employment decisions based on gender identity.
Equality Texas Political Director Randall Terrell testified at Tuesday’s hearing. “I was thrilled to see the Board members unanimously adopt an inclusive non-discrimination policy. This builds upon the leadership they demonstrated 15 years ago when they adopted protections based upon sexual orientation. Now, we look forward to working with them as they craft an even stronger policy.”
Equality Texas earlier expressed deep concern and started an email campaign after the board of directors appeared to waiver on its commitment to provide a discrimination free work place. Last night, however, the DART Board clarified and emphasized their commitment to a strong, clear, inclusive and unambiguous non-discrimination policy. After voting to adopt protections based upon gender identity, and removing the ambiguity introduced last week, the Board verbally committed to work with community leaders to draft an even strong policy.
At the June 15th meeting, the language recommended by DART staff stated: “DART is committed to hiring, promoting and retaining the best qualified persons in all positions and, to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law, DART will not discriminate on the basis of….”, but it was amended to read, “DART is committed to hiring, promoting and retaining the best qualified persons in all positions and, except [emphasis added] to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law, DART will not discriminate on the basis of…” Some legal analysts claimed that the addition of the word “except” effectively removes all discretionary protections in DART’s non-discrimination policy. Tuesday’s vote removed the word “except” from the policy.
Lisa Scheps, Executive Director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, called Tuesday’s vote a step in the right direction, “We applauded DART’s unanimous vote to add protection based on gender identity. We look forward to working with them to make the best policy possible.”