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050312 McCoy Opinion

050312 McCoy Opinion

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STATEOFNEBRASKA
<!&ffiteoftbe
~ttorne!,
<!Peneral
2115STATECAPITOLBUILDINGLINCOLN,NE68509-8920(402)471-2682TDD(402)471-2682FAX(402)471-3297or(402)471-4725
JONBRUNING
ATTORNEYGENERAL
N'§TATEOFNEBRASKA
OFFICIAL
MAY32012
DEPT.OFJUSTICE
\1-.()O~
SUBJECT:ProtectedClassesUnderTheStateCivilRightsStatutes;DoCitiesAndCountiesHaveStatutoryAuthorityToCreateProtectedClassesNotListedInStateStatute?REQUESTEDBY:SenatorBeauMcCoyNebraskaStateLegislatureWRITTENBY:JonBruning,AttorneyGeneralDaleA.Comer,AssistantAttorneyGeneralYouintroducedLB912duringthe2012legislativesession.Amongotherthings,thatbillwouldhaveprohibitedpoliticalsubdivisions,includingmunicipalities,fromadoptingorenforcinganylocallawsorordinanceswhichcreatedprotectedclassificationsbeyondthosecontainedinthestate'scivilrightsstatutessuchastheAgeDiscriminationInEmploymentActortheFairEmploymentPracticesAct.LB912didnotprogressoutofcommittee.Inyouropinionrequestcorrespondence,youindicatethatyouarenowconsideringreintroducingLB912.However,todetermineifthatstepisnecessary,youhaveaskedusif,undercurrentNebraskalaw,"citiesandcountieshavetheauthoritytocreateprotectedclassesnotlistedinstatestatute."Forthereasonssetoutbelow,itisouropinionthatwhilepoliticalsubdivisionsmaypassordinancesorotherlawsonthe
Printedwthsoyinkonrecycledpaper
 
SenatorBeauMcCoyPage2samesubjectmatterwhicharenotinconsistentwiththestate'scivilrightsclassifications,politicalsubdivisionsarenotauthorizedtoexpandprotectedclassesbeyondthescopeofthecivilrightsprovidedforinstatestatute.Asapreliminarymatter,itisworthnotingthatthisissuehasbeenconsideredpreviouslybyaNebraskamunicipality.Intheearly1980s,thepeopleofLincolnvotedtorejectaproposaltoamendtheCityChartertoincludeprotectionsforclassesbeyondthosewhicharecurrentlydefinedbystatestatute.Atthattime,Lincoln'sCityAttorney,WilliamF.Austin,ahighlyrespectedlawyerwhosepubliccareerincludesnearlythirtyyearsofservicetoLincoln,issuedanopiniontotheCity'sleadersthatthepropermechanismformakingsuchachangewouldrequireavoteofthepeopletoamendtheCityCharter.Followingtheissuanceofthatopinion,thequestionwasproperlysubmittedtothepeopleofLincolnandsummarilyrejected.WeareawareofnochangeswithregardtothataspectofmunicipalcorporationlawintheinterveningyearssinceMr.Austin'sopinion,andherecentlyreaffirmedhisviewsinaletterpublishedinthe
LincolnJournalStar.
NotwithstandingwhatNebraskacitiesmayormaynotdowithregardtotheexpansionofprotectedclassesbeyondthatprovidedbystatute,andevenifonediscountstheanalysisthatfollowsin
this
opinion,itremainsthecasethatsuchanexpansionatthecitylevel
must
bepursuanttoanamendmenttoacity'scharter.Suchanamendmentindisputablyrequiresavoteofthepeople.Lincoln'sgovernmentrecognizedthesoundnessofMr.Austin'sopinionin1982,andthefoundationofthatopinionremainsfullyapplicabletoday.Apartfromhomerulecharterrevisions,therearetwoNebraskastatuteswhichpertaintotheauthorityofcertainpoliticalsubdivisions,includingmunicipalities,tocreateandenforcelegislationpertainingtocivilrights-Neb.Rev.Stat.
§
18-1724(2007)andNeb.Rev.Stat.
§
20-113(2007).Wewilldiscusseachofthosestatutesinturn.In
MidwestEmployersCouncil,Inc.v.Omaha,
177Neb.877,131N.W.2d609(1964),twoOmahacorporationschallengedOmahaOrdinanceNo.22026,entitled"FairEmploymentPractices,"whichwouldhaveprohibited"anemployerofthreeormorepersons...fromdiscriminatingonthebasisofrace,religiouscreed,color,nationalorigin,orancestry."
Id.
at881,131N.W.2dat612.Instrikingdowntheordinance,theCourtstated"thestatebyitsLegislaturehasextensivelyenteredthefieldoflabor"and"itisobviousthattheDepartmentofLabor...isvestedwiththepowerandresponsibilityofenforcingemploymentregulationswithinthestate."
Id.
at886-87,131N.W.2dat615.TheCourtheldthatordinanceNo.22026:[Is]unconstitutionalinitsentiretyforthereasonthatthestate,throughtheLegislature,didnotdelegatetothecityofOmahathepowertopermititscitycounciltolegislateonfairemploymentpracticesandcivilrightsbypassingordinanceNo.22026;andforthefurtherreasonthatthepowerrelatingtolaborrelationsandpractices,andcivilrights,liesinthestate,andsuchmattersareofstatewideconcernandnotoflocalconcernnormunicipalgovernmentconcern.
 
SenatorBeauMcCoyPage3
Id.
at888.131N.W.2dat616.ClearlytheCourtwasconcernedwithmunicipalcorporationsexpandinguponexistingstatefairemploymentpracticesandexercisingenforcementinanareainwhichthestatehadbeenvestedwithpowerandresponsibility.InanapparentresponsetotheCourt'srulingin
MidwestEmployers,
theLegislaturespecificallygavemunicipalcorporationsthepowertoenactcivilrightslawsbyordinancein1971.1971Neb.LawsLB161(codifiedasamendedatNeb.Rev.Stat.
§
18-1724(2007».Section18-1724addressedthesituationin
MidwestEmployers
byallowingmunicipalcorporationstoestablishordinancesontheclassificationsspecificallyoutlinedinthebill,andprovidedforlocalcontrolandenforcement.However,thepowerofmunicipalitiesunder
§
18-1724islimited.Thatstatutecurrentlystates:Notwithstandinganyotherlaworlawsheretoforeenacted,allcitiesandvillagesinthisstateshallhavethepowerbyordinancetodefine,regulate,suppress,andpreventdiscriminationonthebasisofrace,color,creed,religion,ancestry,sex,maritalstatus,nationalorigin.familialstatusasdefinedinsection20-311,handicapasdefinedinsection20-313,age,ordisabilityinemployment,publicaccommodation,andhousingandmayprovidefortheenforcementofsuchordinancesbyprovidingappropriatepenaltiesfortheviolationthereof.Itshallnotbeanunlawfulemploymentpracticetorefuseemploymentbasedonapolicyofnotemployingbothhusbandandwifeifsuchpolicyisequallyappliedtobothsexes.Neb.Rev.Stat.
§
18-1724(Reissue2007)(Emphasisadded).Thus,municipalcorporationshavethepower,under
§
18-1724,todefine,regulateandenforceexistingclassificationsasdefinedbystatute.Neb.Rev.Stat.
§
20-113(2007)alsopertainstocivilrightslegislationbypoliticalsubdivisions.Section20-113specificallystates:AnyincorporatedcitymayenactordinancesandanycountymayadoptresolutionswhicharesubstantiallyequivalenttotheAgeDiscriminationinEmploymentAct,theNebraskaFairEmploymentPracticeAct,theNebraskaFairHousingAct,andsections20-126to20-143and48-1219to48-1227orwhicharemorecomprehensivethansuchactsandsectionsintheprotectionofcivilrights.Nosuchordinanceorresolutionshallplaceadutyorliabilityonanyperson,otherthananemployer,employmentagency,orlabororganization,foractssimilartothoseprohibitedbysection48-1115.Suchordinanceorresolutionmayincludeauthorityforalocalagencytoseekanawardofdamagesorotherequitablereliefonbehalfofthecomplainantbythefilingofapetitioninthedistrictcourtinthecountywithappropriatejurisdiction.ThelocalagencyshallhavewithinitsauthorityjurisdictionsubstantiallyequivalenttoormorecomprehensivethantheEqualOpportunityCommissionorotherenforcementagencies

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