Open Letter to Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota

Discrimination Lawsuits – There is a Better Way

Sarasota County just paid $68,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit, and reports indicate the City of Sarasota has paid $220,000 to settle similar claims in the past five years. The City is looking at ways to encourage employees to “express concerns” and will “emphasize the importance of speaking up.” This may be helpful, but there is a more direct approach. The City of Sarasota is already on that path.

Cities for CEDAW* is a nationwide effort that provides tools and structures to help cities become more gender-equitable, proactively. The idea is that when municipalities routinely monitor their hiring policies, workplace practices, and budgets for their gender and racial impacts, disparities become apparent and problems can be solved – before they become discrimination lawsuits!

In 2017, the City of Sarasota adopted a Resolution, signed by then-Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie, supporting Cities for CEDAW. While non-binding, this resolution is the first step. The next step would be an ordinance, requiring the City to begin the process. This need not require extra funding, only a change in approach and a willingness to address the issue.

Nationally, this initiative has been endorsed by over 150 organizations as diverse as the Presbyterian Church USA, the American Bar Association, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the YMCA. Ordinances have been passed in Miami-Dade, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Honolulu. The Gulf Coast Chapter of UN Women USA, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to global gender equality, is the lead organization in Sarasota.

Cities for CEDAW is a better way to save our money AND create more equitable workplaces for all.

E Scott Osborne, President, Gulf Coast Chapter UN Women USA

Terry Brackett, President, UN Women USA National Board

*CEDAW: The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, a widely adopted international convention.

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