April 2013 Newsletter Subscribe to this newsletter
In this issue:
Since the beginning of the year, SOCR’s PSST intake investigator, Karina Bull, has sent out about 14 “advisory letters” a month to employers about PSST compliance. When someone contacts our office to allege that an employer is not in compliance, Karina sends an advisory letter to that employer. The letter asks the employer to contact SOCR as soon as possible to discuss the issue, with the goal of achieving compliance within 30 days.
If the issue is resolved, the matter likely will end there. To date, SOCR has resolved all issues without filing any formal charges. In March for example, 14 out of 16 advisory letters were resolved after employers revised their policies to comply with the ordinance. (In the other two cases, employers were able to demonstrate that they were already in compliance.) In one case, a company with employees who work occasionally in Seattle decided to extend Seattle’s paid sick/safe time benefit to all its employees, wherever they work.
Churches and disability accommodations
This story started with a phone call. The caller was upset: she is hearing-disabled and the mortuary hired to handle the death of a family member had refused to provide her a reasonable accommodation for her disability.
“Why didn’t they pay for an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for the funeral?” she asked Jacque Larrainzar, SOCR’s Outreach and Engagement Manager. “Aren’t they required to do that?”
Jacque handles many of SOCR’s inquiries from people about disability accommodations. When she looked into the situation, Jacque discovered the answer to the woman’s question, along with answers to more questions that hadn’t been asked.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. In this case, however, the mortuary was not where the funeral would take place; its job was to prepare the body and to transport it to a church for the service itself.
“In that case,” asked the woman, “shouldn’t my church be responsible for providing an ASL interpreter?”
The answer is no. Under the law, churches are exempt from most ADA (and other civil rights) protections. Religious organizations are not required to provide disability accommodations to its members or anyone else who participates in a religious service.
When Jacque spoke with the pastor of the church, he was well aware of this exemption. But he hadn’t considered another angle to this issue: even though the church enjoys a legal exemption, maybe it should offer these accommodations voluntarily. In an era of declining church participation and growing numbers of people with disabilities, perhaps it makes sense to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, even when it is not required under the law.
In other words, it’s not always about the law; sometimes it’s about doing the right thing.
Click here to read an overview of ADA implications for churches, produced by the Insurance Board, a nonprofit corporation established by the participating Conferences of the United Church of Christ.
Click here to view “Three Basic Ways to Become Accessible” from the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. The article offers ways for religious organizations to make their facilities accessible at little or no cost.
Meeting the community in the community
SOCR staffers Nafiso Samatar (right) and Felicia Yearwood gave a presentation on illegal discrimination and SOCR’s services to a gathering of Filipino community members on March 27. From now through early June, Nafiso will be conducting a series of meetings with Somali, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Eritrean and other immigrant communities to learn more about how discrimination affects them, and to let them know what they can do about it through our office. The project is a partnership with the City of Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.
For more information about Nafiso’s outreach work, call us 206-684-4500.
Women’s Commissioner asks “What about housing?”
An op-ed by Seattle Women’s Commissioner Jamila Johnson appeared in Publicola on April 5. The article highlights the key role of the State Housing Trust Fund to build affordable housing, create jobs and leverage other state resources. Jamila Johnson is a civil litigator in Seattle who serves as the Endorsement Chair for Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund and chairs the Housing and Homelessness sub-committee of the Seattle Women's Commission.
Non-profits collaborate on RSJ
About forty representatives from human services agencies throughout the City attended an “Open Space” session on March 12 to develop funding proposals to support racial equity work in human service organizations. Co-facilitated by Julie Nelson and Benita Horn, the human services representatives identified focus areas for potential projects and worked in small groups to refine the focus areas, discuss potential partnerships to submit proposals and discussed next steps in their collaboration. Participants identified focus areas and discussed agency partnerships, including eleven potential projects.
Partner groups will attend a Proposal Symposium on April 24, when they will present their proposals and receive feedback. Proposals will be due in mid-May and implemented from June to October.
Community celebration honoring Father Solalinde
On April 11, more than 100 people gathered for a community celebration to honor Father Alejandro Solalinde’s work and immigrant and refugees in Seattle. Father Solalinde is a Catholic priest who has dedicated his life to providing a place of safety for migrants. The event was hosted by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA).
Master of ceremonies (and OIRA director) Magdaleno “Leno” Rose-Avila included a reading by Cuban poet Jorge Pacheco, followed by a special recognition award by the Human Rights Commission and remarks by Father Solalinde. The evening concluded with light refreshments from El Quetzal and festive music and dance by the Seattle Fandango Project.
Earlier that day, Commissioner Alejandra Gonza accompanied Father Solalinde on a visit to Casa Latina, El Centro de la Raza and Seattle University International Human Rights Law Clinic. Father Solalinde also participated with Commissioner Andrea Negrete in a special recognition given to him in City Hall for his defense of immigrants’ rights. During Father Solalinde's visit many members of the Latino community talked broadly and profoundly about their challenges living documented and undocumented in Seattle and WA, their hope for a comprehensive immigration reform with human rights perspective, as well about the concerns regarding different unjust detentions and deportation cases.
Father Solalinde is the Director of “Hermanos en el Camino,” a shelter and center for immigrants passing through southwest Mexico. The center provides food, lodging, medical care, and legal assistance for people migrating from Central and South America. As a result of his dedicated and persistent activism, he has received multiple death threats from organized crime and local officials. Click here to learn more about Father Solalinde’s work.
Thanks to all of our partners and sponsors for this event: SEIU Healthcare, Seattle Latino Film Festival, Seattle Human Rights Commission, El Centro de la Raza, One America, Casa Latina, Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Seattle Office for Civil Rights, University of Puget Sound, Seattle University, Race and Social Justice Initiative, Entre Hermanos, Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Latino City Employees and Seattle Fandango Project.
From event participants:
Is great to see the Latino community working together for Human Rights. More!
Thank you for bringing Father Solalinde to Seattle. He is an example for all of us.
Much to think about! Thank you.
I want to thank to all for the opportunity of being part of this event. It was a great privilege to have the opportunity to heard about Alejandro Solalinde’s work in Mexico.
Race: The Power of an Illusion Community Training
Saturday, May 11, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
In partnership with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights / Race and Social Justice Initiative, the Seattle Police Department invites you to a community training on the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. The community training/presentation will be based on the documentary “Race: The Power of an Illusion.”
Join us on Saturday, May 11
9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Mount Zion Baptist Church
1634 19th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
RSVP by Friday, May 3, 2013. Contact Maggie Olsen at Margaret.email@example.com or 206-684-8672
Intergenerational dialog about multiracial solidarity in Seattle
OneAmerica and ChangeLab are excited to co-host an intergenerational dialogue about multiracial solidarity in Seattle. The event ‘Past, Present and Future of Multiracial Solidarity’ will explore lessons from the radical racial justice movements of the '60s and '70s, and will explore how political conditions have changed since then. Participants will engage in a conversation about how to strengthen current multiracial efforts -- what's needed, and what gets in the way. The event will be free and open to the public, and will take place on Saturday, May 11th, 10am - 1pm at the offices of OneAmerica (1225 S. Weller Street, Suite 430,Seattle, WA 98144)
The event will feature Soya Jung, recent author of "Left or Right of the Color Line: Asian Americans and the Racial Justice Movement", a report based on interviews with dozens of Asian American racial justice leaders from around the country. It will also feature Aaron Dixon, author of My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain, and Ron Chew, longtime community historian and recent author of Remembering Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo: The Legacy of Filipino American Labor Activism.
Train-the-Trainer Facilitation Workshop for "Race: the Power of an Illusion"
Would you like to become a facilitator for "Race: the Power of an Illusion" training in your own organization or in the community? Join us for a "train-the-trainer" session on Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-684-0548. Pre-requisite: you must have completed the “Race: the Power of an Illusion” workshop to participate.
Seattle Parks and Recreation Parks Legacy Plan
Seattle Parks and Recreation invites you and your family to help plan Seattle Parks and Recreation’s future. Together, we are starting an important public conversation to ensure we have a great park system for generations to come.
Tuesday, May 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Seattle Parks and Recreation Administration Building
100 Dexter Ave. N
Wednesday, May 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Sports, Recreation and Aquatics
Green Lake Community Center
7201 E Green Lake Dr. N
Monday, May 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Seniors, Teens including LGBT, Community
Centers and Associated Recreation Council (ARC)
Northgate Community Center
10510 5th Ave. NE
Thursday, May 16 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Environmental Programs, Open Space and Maintenance
Jefferson Community Center
3801 Beacon Ave. S
Tuesday, May 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Dakota Place Park Building
4304 SW Dakota St.
Wednesday, May 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Immigrant and Refugee Communities
South Shore K-8 School
4800 S Henderson St.
For more information, visit: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/legacy/
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Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Julie Nelson, Director
For newsletter questions contact Brenda Anibarro, (206) 684-4514 Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov