Gwinnett expands nondiscrimination policy to include ancestry, hair texture and styles, changes effective Nov. 1

September 21, 20213min15870
Gwinnett C


GWINNETT COUNTY, GA– The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners has amended the county government’s nondiscrimination policy to protect county employees’ ancestry, family status, immigration status and even homeless status. The changes take effect Nov. 1.

“Discrimination takes many different forms and it’s important for Gwinnett County to take the lead in identifying and eliminating them,” said Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson. “People need to know we apply the Gwinnett Standard to our organization as well as to our employment opportunities.”

The amendment also draws inspiration from the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. The CROWN Act ensures that race-based hairstyles, textures and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists and knots are protected in the workplace.

According to national data, Black women at work are “1.5 times more likely to be sent home” because of their hairstyle, the county said in its news release.

“People are multi-faceted with many abilities and in an evolving and diverse community like Gwinnett, we’re striving not to let things like hair styles or family arrangements get in the way of recruiting and promoting the best talent we can find to assist in delivering superior services to our taxpayers,” said Vice Chair and District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque.

In addition to the amendments, the county’s policy states that county employees cannot be discriminated against based on their sex, race, color, national origin, gender (identity and expression), sexual orientation, age, religious or political affiliation, marital status or if they are pregnant, disabled, active duty military or a veteran.

“While Gwinnett works very hard to provide equal opportunities for all employees, the merit rule changes address subtle ways in which people can be penalized indirectly or unintentionally,” said District 1 Commissioner Kirkland Carden. “We want people to be recognized and assessed according to their abilities and contributions.”

In July, County Administrator Glenn Stephens recommended the updates to the Merit Board. From there, the Merit Board approved the policy changes to be brought before County leaders.

“I’m happy that the work I did since getting elected to standardize this language and wording continues to be updated and enhanced to prevent all targeted and arbitrary discrimination. Gwinnett County holds itself to the highest standards of integrity and fairness,” said District 2 Commissioner Ben Ku.

“To succeed, any organization needs to get the most from its people and that means treating people fairly no matter who they are, where they come from or what they look like,” said District 3 Commissioner Jasper Watkins.“We just want to know you can get the job done.”

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