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Newsletter Archive

December 2012 Newsletter Subscribe to this newsletter

December 2012

In this issue:

City employees create "It Gets Better" videos

City of Seattle employees have added their voices to the nationwide It Gets Better Project to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

The videos, which were created by SEqual (the City of Seattle's LGBTQ Employees for Equality) and the Seattle Police Department feature City employees and police officers describing their own coming out experiences, and what "better" means to them personally.

Click here to view SEqual's video.
Click here to view SPD's video.

Seattle writer Dan Savage began the It Gets Better Project to show young LGBT people the happiness and potential their lives can reach. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone - and it will get better.

"I'm proud to work with all of you in a city that has been a national leader in supporting LGBT equality," Mayor Mike McGinn wrote to City employees when he announced the videos. "By telling stories and sharing our experiences, we can make things better now and in the future for young LGBTQ people in our community."

Seattle's anti-discrimination laws have protected people in Seattle on the basis of sexual orientation since 1975. The City began offering health benefits to employees' domestic partners many years ago, and in 1999 required companies doing business with the City who offered benefits to legally married partners, to extend the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners. In 2011, the City added transgender health care to employees' health plans. In 2012, the City joined an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

And on December 9, Seattle City Hall will open its doors for couples who received marriage licenses on December 6, the first day same sex couples can get a license, to hold their wedding ceremonies. Click here to learn more about getting married at City Hall on December 9.

This just in: Human Rights Campaign's 2012 Municipal Equality Index awarded Seattle a 100% rating for LGBT inclusion and LGBT-friendly policies. The Index is based on 47 criteria in six categories, including protection from discrimination, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership. Click here to read more about HRC's Municipal Equality Index.

Paid Sick & Safe Time Update - PSST Video: Why Seattle Works Well

Want to know why paid sick/safe time is so important? Just listen to the employees and business owners featured in SOCR's new video, "PSST: Why Seattle Works Well." Makini Howell, Janice Deguchi, Eli Reich and Deb Schaack took time for their busy days to tell why they support paid sick and safe time for their employees and co-workers. Makini is the owner of Plum Bistro, Janice is the Executive Director of Denise Louie Education Center, Eli is the owner of Alchemy Goods, and Deb is the business manager at Central Physical Therapy and Fitness.

SOCR staff have fielded hundreds of calls from employers about the PSST Ordinance, which went into effect on September 1. Staff also held twelve workshops in August and September to explain the new ordinance and answer employers' questions.

Paid Sick and Safe TimeSeattle area employees also have called to ask about their companies' compliance with PSST. When SOCR receives a complaint about possible non-compliance, we send out an advisory letter to the employer. The letter informs the employer that there has been a complaint, and that we want to work with them to ensure they are in compliance.

So far, SOCR has sent out advisory letters to two employers in September, five in October and twenty-one to date in November. All September/October cases appear to be resolved except for one, which may turn into a charge. Employers have been forthcoming, cooperative and have taken positive steps to comply with the ordinance.

How to file a complaint about Paid Sick/Safe Time: SOCR has begun processing intake calls from employees concerned that their employers may not be in compliance. If you feel you have been denied your rights under the PSST Ordinance, call SOCR at 206-684-4500 to speak with our intake investigator. You also can visit our office in the Central Building, 810 Third Avenue, Suite 750 in downtown Seattle. Click here for more information or to fill out an online PSST Intake Questionnaire.

If you have questions about Paid Sick/Safe Time: Call 206-684-4500 to speak with SOCR staff, or visit for information and resources, including posters, brochures, a PowerPoint presentation and more.

Rita Zawaideh, Washington United for Marriage and Jessica Markowitz will receive awards at Seattle Human Rights Day

December 13, 6-8 p.m. Seattle City Hall, 5th and James

Seattle Human Rights DayRita Zawaideh, Washington United for Marriage and Jessica Markowitz will receive Seattle Human Rights Awards at the annual Seattle Human Rights Day Celebration on Thursday, December 13, 6 p.m. at Seattle City Hall, 5th and James. The Human Rights Awards recognize contributions of Seattle residents who advance human rights locally, nationally or internationally.

Rita Zawaideh is the founder of the Arab American Community Coalition, and has worked for decades to promote human rights and cross-cultural education and communication. Washington United for Marriage is a coalition of more than 500 organizations, congregations, unions, and businesses working together in coalition to defend civil marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples. The group led the successful ballot referendum for marriage equality on November 6. Garfield senior Jessica Markowitz will receive the Human Rights Youth Award. Since she was in the ninth grade, Jessica has organized her fellow students and their families to raise funds for girls' schools in Rwanda.

This year's Human Rights Day celebration also features environmental and civil rights activist Van Jones as the keynote speaker. Magdaleno "Leno" Rose-Avila, Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, will serve as master of ceremonies. Seattle Human Rights Day is free and open to the public.

Human Rights Day commemorates the signing of the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This year's event is sponsored by the Seattle Human Rights Commission and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the United Nations Association of Seattle, Youth for Human Rights International, Amnesty International, the King County Civil Rights Commission, and other community partners.

ASL provided. To request an accommodation or language interpretation, please call 206-684-4537 or email felicia.yearwood@seattle.govby December 9.

Enforcement Update: Case settlements in 2012 total $65,940

Charging parties have received a total of $65,940 in settlement of discrimination cases so far in 2012: $53,000 in employment cases; $11,040 in housing cases; and $1,900 in public accommodations cases. Out of 140 cases closed, about 14% have resulted in settlements, which often (though not always) include some form of financial compensation.

Here are examples of some cases that resulted in monetary settlements:

In employment, the owner of a local manufacturing business hung a noose in a work area where an African American man also worked. The man asked his boss to remove it, but he refused. SOCR found reasonable cause; in settlement, the employee received $20,000.
In housing, a large low-income shelter provider refused to allow a shelter guest to use her service animal because it was not a dog. SOCR found reasonable cause; in settlement, the guest received $750 and the shelter provider agreed to develop a comprehensive service animal policy for all their residences.
In public accommodations, two people with disabilities alleged that a gas station refused them service. In settlement, the station agreed to pay the charging parties $650 and $500 each.

Seattle Women's Commission salutes Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time

The Commission held a special event on October 29 to present this year's 2012 Jeanette Williams Award to the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce. This coalition, joined by more than 70 community, labor and faith organizations and local businesses, led the advocacy effort in support of Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time.

Seattle Women's CommissionThe Seattle Women's Commission would like to thank everyone who made Paid Sick and Safe Time possible for our community. From supporters of the legislation, to the businesses who worked to implement changes to their policies, our city now has a critical protection in place for workers and families. A lack of paid sick and safe time disproportionately impacted our city's women and children. Seattle came together to address this disparity, and now it is time to celebrate everyone's hard work!

Hate Crime Forum shines light on dark issue

Hate Crime ForumOn October 15, 2012, the Seattle LGBT Commission and Human Rights Commission presented a "Hate Crime Forum" to explain what a hate crime is and what to do if you witness or experience one. The first hour of the forum was a panel discussion; in the second hour, panelists answered questions from the audience, who then discussed the issue at their tables. We received the following praise and feedback on the Hate Crimes Forum from Pamela Stearns, CANOES:

Julie did a great job moderating and the panel members were genuinely interested in our concerns and questions. My daughter Stephanie and her friend really enjoyed the event and learned a lot about how to identify a hate crime and what to do about it when we see it happen. They were "chatty" on the ride home - excited to be able to put what they learned to use at their high school. Stephanie said they met a couple of police officers (Sergeant Jay Shinn and Assistant Chief of Police Dick Reed) and one of them agreed to come out to her student group "Youth Rising" and speak to them.

We discussed everything from bullying to rights of Native Americans to the use of eagle feathers; how can we feel safe on the streets, living room conversations, and how can we all work together to build trust between community and Seattle Police. I have to say, I was impressed overall with how we all were listened to; I felt our thoughts and solutions were valued.


Dulcie O'Sullivan, Department of Planning and Development, sent in the following e-mail regarding a presentation by investigator Chenelle Love:

Just wanted to convey some kudos to Chenelle Love who was gracious enough to present on the Office for Civil Rights enforcement process for the Code Compliance work group last Wednesday.

Chenelle is a compelling presenter and everyone was unanimous in their positive feedback. It was a most informative and valuable experience. Thanks!


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Everyone is welcome to join our page to stay in touch!

Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Julie Nelson, Director

For newsletter questions contact Brenda Anibarro, (206) 684-4514 Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov