During the City Council public sessions on HERO, there was one council member who continually questioned whether or not an ordinance protecting Houstonians against discrimination was truly necessary. Despite personal story after personal story from people describing the type of discrimination they had experienced, he continued to ask that question. That council member, ultimately voted against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.
Since then we have been researching how much discrimination is taking place in Houston. Through publicly available records, we have uncovered the following information.
Between May 28, 2014, the day that HERO passed at Houston City Council by a majority vote, until Thursday, January 15, 2015 the City of Houston's Office of the Inspector General has received 84 reported cases of discrimination.
Of those 84, 52 are types of discrimination that would be covered by the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.
These reported cases of discrimination run the gambit of protected characteristics, from race to age to gender to disability to sexual orientation to gender identity to national origin to veteran status.
If you look at the math, that breaks down to 1.6 people every week who are actively facing discrimination in some form and who have no local remedy because HERO is not in effect. To look at it another way that is almost 7 people (6.9 to be exact) every month.
In fact, since the day we obtained the data we can estimate that almost 5 more people have been in a situation where they were discriminated against in some form. And that is considering that these are only the cases that have been reported.
What about people who just don't report discrimination because they don't see a path to remedy it?
These are our fellow Houstonians who are facing unfair treatment either at work, out at a restaurant or bar, or at their home or apartment. Don't they deserve a local response to this discrimination without having to hire an attorney and go to court?
Yes, discrimination is happening in Houston right now and citizens deserve the protection of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.