Gwinnett County votes to expand non-discrimination policy

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners during their meeting on Sept. 21, 2021. (Gwinnett County)

Gwinnett County is the latest local government to enact a version of the CROWN Act and expanded its definition of discrimination.

Gwinnett County Commissioners said county employees cannot be discriminated against based on a person’s ancestry, family status, immigration status, and homeless status. That adds to the current discrimination policy that prohibits bias due to 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.

"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 commission said the policy was inspired by the CROWN or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. 

"People are multi-faceted with many abilities and in an evolving and diverse community like Gwinnett, we’re striving not to let things like hairstyles 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.

"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."

The amendment was proposed by County Administrator Glenn Stephens in July and reached the full board this week.

"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."

The new non-discrimination policy for the county goes into place on Nov. 1.

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