Anti-discrimination bill runs into opposition over ‘cash discrimination’
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Environmental legislation isn’t the only issue employers are watching in the Capitol.
House Bill 4107, a complex anti-discrimination bill, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 12. The bill makes changes to a few issue areas, all under the broad idea of prohibiting discrimination.
The most relevant pieces to schools involve dress code and hairstyle discrimination. The bill explicitly adds to the meaning of “race” any sort of “natural hair, hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyles” for the purposes of anti-discrimination statutes. It also clarifies that a valid dress code or dress policy “may not have disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected class,” such as race or gender. These restrictions are consistent with guidance from OSBA staff and counsel. Changes to these laws should not disrupt most school operations.
Business groups have hotly contested the bill because of language in it that would make it an unlawful practice for a place of public accommodation to refuse to accept United States coins or currency (cash) as payment for goods and services. Business stakeholders have significant concerns with this language to create “cash discrimination” and will likely seek to address this concern in the Senate chamber. The bill is expected to be up for a vote on the House floor this week.
HB 4007 specified that individuals otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance benefits are not disqualified from benefits due to labor disputes (i.e. strikes) at an individual’s place of employment. School districts and business advocates are concerned because of the potential costs this would add to a strike situation. In a surprising turn, however, the bill died at the first-chamber deadline. It was a House Business and Labor Committee bill, but it never received a committee vote or hearing. Although the bill is dead for the year, the policy likely will return for a conversation during the 2021 legislative session.
Wage Security Fund
HB 4087 passed out of the House Business and Labor Committee last week with unanimous support. Currently, some civil penalties assessed by the Bureau of Labor and Industries go into the Common School Fund, adding funding to public schools. This bill would redirect these penalties from the Common School Fund to BOLI to support technical assistance and deepen the existing security fund bucket. The amount is relatively small, estimated at $100,000 or so annually. Public education stakeholders, however, are wary of any funding being directed away from schools. An amendment includes an annual cap of $290,000 in civil penalties. The bill moved to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, where it is awaiting a hearing.