Tempe Passes Nondiscrimination Ordinance

February 28, 2014

 Tempe passed a nondiscrimination ordinance Thursday night, but city leaders said the timing with the recently vetoed religious freedom bill was merely coincidental. 

The city council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and military veterans as protected from housing and employment discrimination. It applies to Tempe government, businesses and contractors.

City Attorney Judith Baumann said this law is meant to provide legal cover for people who are not protected under the state law. 

“Part of what we were hoping to do was fill the gap, if you will. The state’s law is very effective but does not extend its protection to those groups of people," said Baumann. 

It is a civil law that could carry fines of up to $1,500. Phoenix has a similar ordinance, but it is criminal. Baumann said Tempe created a civil one because the burden of proof is lower.

The statute does give some exemptions based on religion. It is the fourth city in Arizona to create such a law after Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.