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Proposed Non Discrimination Ordinance in Billings Poses Questions

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Yesterday, the Billings City Council met again to discuss the potential wording of the proposed Non Discrimination Ordinance.  The Flakes are convinced that this ordinance will eventually pass, however, we have some concerns about it.

Unlike similar ordinances that have recently passed in Bozeman, Helena, Butte and Missoula, the Billings ordinance will likely include a clause making obesity a protected class.  But what does that mean for employers?  If you run a fitness center and an obese person applies for a job, are you discriminating against them when you hire a candidate in better physical condition?  Same goes for any job that’s physically demanding.

Another potential problem could arise from the definition of gender.  If someone has gender identity issues, which restroom should they use.  A lot of women would be uncomfortable sharing their bathroom with a transgender male.  Is the mere idea of men’s rooms and women’s rooms tantamount to discrimination?

Those are some interesting questions that City Council will have to decide before they pass the ordinance.  Of course, the Flakes contend that discrimination is already illegal.  Ordinances like these are largely symbolic.  It’s like calling a school a “Drug Free Zone”.  Everywhere is technically a “drug free zone”.

And interestingly enough, the only group of people that haven’t been specifically mentioned in the proposal are heterosexuals.  If a heterosexual applies for a job at a gay bar, is the employer discriminating if they hire a homosexual?

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