Worthington’s Community Relations Commission is looking for feedback on the first draft of a nondiscrimination ordinance.

The commission, made up of nine community members appointed by Worthington City Council, has written a first draft of the proposed ordinance.

The draft of the measure is available on the city’s website, worthington.org.

The Community Relations Commission has scheduled a public forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, on the second floor of the Worthington Municipal Building, 6550 N. High St.

The ordinance is intended to provide protections against discrimination of age, ancestry, color, disability, familial status, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, military status, national origin, race, sex and sexual orientation, said Lori Trego, staff liaison for the Community Relations Commission, personnel director and assistant to the city manager for Worthington.

Trego said the proposed ordinance is “very similar” to others in Bexley and Columbus. She said Worthington’s codified ordinances only have protections for color, race, religion or national origin.

Ohio has no protection for gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, Trego said.

According to the city’s website, protections would extend to housing, services, employment and “public accommodations” through Worthington. Under the ordinance, those who believe they have been discriminated against could file a "charge" with a Worthington city clerk.

If someone fails to comply with a cease and desist order, the city could “charge” the respondent with failure to comply with the order. The current draft of the ordinance would make it a criminal offense, a first-degree misdemeanor, said law director Tom Lindsey.

This criminal charge could be filed in Worthington Mayor’s Court or Franklin County Municipal Court, he said. It would be prosecuted similar to any other criminal offense, he said.

Depending on the circumstances, the Community Relations Commission would proceed with an investigation or recommend a complaint be filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the ordinance. If mediation offered by the Community Relations Commission were unsuccessful, a cease-and-desist order and a fine would be issued by the city.

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