Working for a safe, affordable, vibrant, innovative, and interconnected city.
Learn More Home Page This Department
Link to Office for Civil Rights Home Page Link to Office for Civil Rights Home Page Link to Office for Civil Rights About Us Page Link to Office for Civil Rights Contact Us Page
Office for Civil Rights Patricia Lally, Director
About Us
What is Illegal Discrimination?
How to File a Complaint
Labor Standards
Rules, Ordinances, Publications
Title VI Plan
Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative
Disability Access and Services
Employing Immigrants
Contact Us
Newsletter Archive

September 2009 Newsletter         Subscribe to this newsletter

September 2009

In this issue:

Enforcement Update:  Recent Case Closures

RSJI Update:  Community Roundtable Holds First Meeting

SOCR Welcomes New Staff and Summer Interns

H1N1 Virus (swine flu)


Events & Announcements

New Civil Rights Protections for Mothers' Breastfeeding in Public and Veterans' Military Status

Breastfeeding in Public

During the 2009 Legislative session, new protections were added for women who breastfeed in public. Mothers who breastfeed in public places (cafes, parks, stores, museums, pools, etc.) in Washington State, are now a protected class. Breastfeeding in these areas can occur at the time and location of the mother's choosing while the public place is open, and employees may not ask mothers to leave, stop, cover up or move to a bathroom or other location. The new protections do not cover breast pumping or nursing at work. The Washington State Human Rights Commission is working on outreach materials concerning the new law, including an informational wallet card for mothers to carry.

For more information on this bill, visit the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington's website at If you believe you have been discriminated against for breastfeeding in public or if you have questions on the new protections, contact SOCR at (206) 684-4500 or the Washington State Human Rights Commission at 1-800-233-3247.

Veterans and Military Status

In June of this year the Seattle City Council voted to add veterans and military status to the list of groups protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Veteran and military status were previously protected groups at the state and federal levels. Honorably discharged veterans and those who have military status(i.e. an active or reserve member in any branch of the armed forces of the United States, including the National Guard, Coast Guard, and Armed Forces Reserves) are now protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations within the boundaries of Seattle as well.

If you feel you have been discriminated on the basis of your veteran or military status, please call our office at 206-684-4500. All our services are free and confidential.


Enforcement Update: Recent Case Closures

A recent disability case began as a letter sent to the Mayor's Office by a disabled resident who was concerned by the City's slow response to consider creating a curb cut on 36th Avenue South, to allow safe movement on her own street. The complainant alleged that the failure of the City to accommodate her need for the curb cut was a violation of the federal American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our in-house ADA expert Greg Bell reviewed the letter and recommended that SOCR look into the matter as a formal investigation. Merle Weiss, Civil Rights Analyst investigated the case; in settlement, the City department responsible agreed to provide the curb cut.

A woman had worked as a server for a local restaurant during the summers since 2005. Last summer she was asked to return to work for the summer and she accepted. She was eight months pregnant but did not advertise this to her employer. On the second day of employment an incident occurred and the woman was confronted for eating on the job. During this confrontation she asked her employer if she wanted her to leave, and the employer replied yes. During the investigation the employer admitted they would not have hired the woman if they knew she was pregnant, and did not know why any women would want to work in that late stage of pregnancy. The investigator found discriminatory intent was a motivating factor in the discharge. Reasonable cause was found in the case. The parties will confer and conciliate to arrive at a just resolution.

In a charge by an employee against the City department where she worked, the complainant alleged she was subjected to a hostile work environment because of her disability and that the City department failed to provide a reasonable accomodation. The department settled the case, agreeing to pay the employee $24,000 and to work out a disability accommodation with her.

A man residing at a local transitional housing shelter charged housing discrimination based on religion (Native American Avajo/Hopi). The resident performs a religious smudging ritual twice a day on a sealed urn containing his daughter's ashes. The resident alleged that the transitional housing shelter required a health and safety check of the urn and stated that if he refused he would not be able to stay at the shelter. The case was settled when the housing shelter agreed not to attempt to search, touch or otherwise disturb his daughter's ashes and the resident agreed not to discuss the ashes of his daughter. The resident is on track to move to permanent housing in the near future.

RSJI Update: Community Roundtable Holds First Meeting

Community Roundtable Holds First Meeting

RSJI square logo

SOCR has convened a Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable to support community change that reaches beyond City government. The Roundtable has approximately twenty members, representing community-based organizations, philanthropic institutions, other public entities and businesses. It will focus on developing partnerships and resources that build on the City's efforts to address race-based disparities and increase community support for racial justice.


SOCR Welcomes New Staff and Summer Interns

A big welcome to new faces at SOCR!

Michael Chin

Michael Chin has joined SOCR as a Civil Rights Analyst. Michael brings with him many years of experience from his time as an investigator with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Welcome Michael! Stay tuned for more on Michael in the next e-newsletter.



Summer is a fun time at SOCR thanks in large part to the many interns we are fortunate to have on board. This summer we have had four interns working on various projects around the office.

Amy Huong is a recent graduate of UW where she studied international human rights, and conducted research on women's human rights issues. Amy works part time at the Minority Executive Directors Coalition, and is engaging in a human rights research project this summer on behalf of the Human Rights Commission.


Jeannie Lee


Jeannie Lee, a law student at Seattle University, worked as an extern supporting case investigations for the Enforcement Division.



SOCR benefitted greatly from the work and enthusiasm of two high school interns, Fatiya Dire and Veronica Santillan-Hernandez who are spending the summer working on outreach projects for the office as part of the Youth Employment Program. We asked Fatiya and Veronica to share a little bit about themselves in their own words:

Fatiya Dire

Fatiya Dire with Marie Dang

What made you want to intern at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights?
I wanted to try new things and see what I like because I want to be a doctor and also something else which I do not know yet. The thing that made me want to work here is what they told me about Seattle Office for Civil Rights, how they work with people and help them and I always wanted to help people so I gave it a try and I'm liking it so far.

What do you hope to learn this summer?
I want to learn many things this summer about how to help people more by knowing both sides of the story not just one side.

What do you like to do for fun when you're not in school?
I volunteer at Union Gospel Mission with Refuge Women's Alliance and sometime go out to the movies con mis amigas.

What do you hope to do when you graduate high school?
To get into Clark ,UCLA or University of Oregon and study to become a doctor. I do not know what kind of doctor yet. I also want to do counseling because I enjoy helping people .

Anything else?
All of you are great and I look up to you all as my role model. I want to do something like you guys in the future. I enjoy working with you all and you all rock at your work .Good job to everyone.


Veronica Santillan-Hernandez

What made you want to intern at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights?
As a child I made the decision to become an attorney, I wanted to help others out. I saw the opportunity for internship at the Office for Civil Rights and I took it. I figured working around the whole law thing and getting somewhat of a feel for the office life would help me decide if it was really what I wanted.

What do you hope to learn this summer?
This summer I hope to figure out who I am and what dreams I want to pursue. What's worth my time and what I need to let go of. Who matters and who just doesn't. I want to start paying attention to the important things in life. You see, I don't consider myself like people my age. Some might say that thinking ahead is bad, but it's what I'm good at. I just want to leave the past behind, worry about my present, and dream about my future-past.

What do you like to do for fun when you're not in school?
When I am not in school I enjoy spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, or just kicking back on my own at home. I'm pretty much up for anything and a lot of times you'll catch me having fun even when I'm not up to much. When I have the time, I absolutely love to read and write. I like making people laugh as well, oh and unless there's something really bothering me, I manage to keep a smile on my face. Did I mention I like being totally random?

What do you hope to do when you graduate high school?
When I graduate from high school I would like to take a year to work, travel, or just to take a break from school. As of now I would like to become a crime scene investigator. I don't know what I will be doing in the near future though but I know I want to be involved in something along the lines of law. Once I have my job set I would want to form my own family, unless of course, it happens along the way .. and if I don't find the right one, I would like to adopt. (:

Anything else?
And there's a little bit about me. I'm complicated, I know.


H1N1 Virus (swine flu)
(Excerpted from the web site of the Seattle/King County Public Health Department)

H1N1 virus, also known as "swine flu" and "swine Influenza A" is a virus that can spread from people who are infected to others through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch. H1N1 virus is not transmitted from pigs to humans or from eating pork products.

Confirmed human cases of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) have been reported in multiple states. Internationally, there are reported outbreaks in Mexico, Canada and other countries around the world. Although most cases of the H1N1 human swine flu infection have been mild, health officials are closely monitoring and responding aggressively to the outbreaks in an ongoing effort to reduce the spread and severity of illness.

Many people in the United States and around the world have been infected with swine flu. At the time of this writing almost all cases of influenza in the nation have been similar to the regular seasonal flu that we see every year.

Frequently asked questions about H1N1 virus (swine flu)

What should I do to keep from getting the H1N1 virus?
First and most important: wash your hands and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

What are the symptoms of H1N1 virus?
The symptoms of H1N1 virus in people are similar to seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Are there medicines for H1N1 virus?
Yes, there are antiviral medicines to help treat the H1N1 virus. These prescription medicines work best if started within 2 days of flu symptoms. A health care provider must determine whether someone is sick enough to need the medication. There is currently no vaccine to prevent H1N1 virus.

What should I do if I am sick?

  • Stay home from work or school and don't travel. Get better and keep others from getting sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your inner elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • How should I decide if I should seek medical care?

    People should make decisions about when to seek medical care as they would under normal circumstances. Consult with a health care provider or seek medical care for the following:

  • Fever, along with any of the following symptoms:
  • Rapidly worsening illness
  • Person is unresponsive and unable to get out of bed
  • Bad sore throat or severe cough
  • Chest pain
  • If you need medical care and don't have a medical provider or health insurance, call the Community Health Access Program at 800-756-5437. You will not be asked to provide proof of immigration status.
    For more information and on-going updates contact the Flu Hotline, 877-903-5464 (recorded information about H1N1 flu in English and Spanish) and visit Public Health - Seattle & King County:


    Kudos Corner

    SOCR is proud of the work of its entire staff. Over the last couple months we received the following kudos letters for Jacque Larrainzar, Monica Beach, Elliott Bronstein, Greg Bell and Brenda Anibarro. Great job!

    On behalf or Animating Democracy and Americans for the Arts, I want to thank you for your excellent presentation at our annual convention. Your well-designed session kept us engaged, moving, and moved throughout. You effectively communicated the development, infrastructure, and impacts of South Park's Photo Voice project from all perspectives. Thanks especially for including Nelsy in the mix. We were delighted to have her at the convention and inspired by her presentation. That, mixed with lively and informative back story that Antoinette and Jacque provided revealed the logistics and dynamics of the relationships and partnerships that made Photo Voice successful in South Park. Finally, Hugo's perspective as an artist added important detail and dimension to the story. I think you inspired at least two new program start-ups!
    Thanks again.

    Dear Director Nelson:
    I'm in receipt of a $ 500.00 Settlement check from XXX, Canada, which is a result of my ADA complaint against them. This settlement would definitely have NOT been possible, if weren't for the hard work and constant negotiations of your Senior Investigator Monica Beach! Her performance was nothing short of excellence; her vast Civil Rights knowledge guided her to the correct laws that assured a favorable outcome! The money received was of little consequence; the important fact is that this company will keep its parking lots clean of obstructions in the future. And most importantly they and their country will abide by our American laws! Additionally, Ms. Beach's sensitivity and caring for the disabled is admirable! And speaks highly of hers superiors' training. Ralph Marston once said;" We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit"
    With respect and appreciation!

    Brenda and Elliott staffed a table at the Juneteenth Celebration event at Rainier Beach Family Center on Friday, June 19. Thank you to both of you for representing our office and getting information out in the Rainier Valley. The event was organized by the Rainier Beach Family Center and the Atlantic Street Center and was very well attended. People were hungry for information and Brenda and Elliott did a great job talking to folks. This is what the organizer had to say about Elliott and Brenda:

    "Your Presence meant a lot to the Rainier Valley Community, looking forward to next year"
    Great Job!

    You and your staff have been so amazing to respond to our needs on such short notice. Greg was a great facilitator and he was so open to sharing his experiences as well. The teens had a lot of great feedback. We will be having the workshop once more tomorrow and I believe Greg mentioned that he will try to attend if he can. Take care and hopefully we'll get more opportunities to work with your group in the near future!

    Events and Announcements

    Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities hosts Healthy LGBT Families Community Picnic Saturday, August 29, 2009

    LGBT Legal Clinic- 3rd Thursday of each month from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

    Civil Rights Workshop September 29th 1pm-5pm - A workshop for Social Service Providers, Community Organizers And Advocates

    Mayors Small Business Awards- Accepting Nominations - The Office of Economic Development is accepting nominations for the 2009 Mayors Small Business Awards.

    Save the Date - Seattle Race Conference - Saturday, October 24th

    Seattle City Council- Recession Resources - Help with Employment, Housing, Human Services, Debt Relief, and Foreclosure


    Seattle Office for Civil Rights
    Julie Nelson, Director

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