County considers easing equal employment rules

County considering dropping equal employment rules

(WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Commission will consider easing Equal Employment Opportunity rules for county contractors during its meeting Wednesday.

The discussion comes after one Memphis company successfully sued the county to stop requiring that a percentage of its workers must be minorities.

The same attorney has two other clients currently suing the county.

Wednesday, a Shelby County Commission committee will discuss easing its equal employment opportunity rules, amid courtroom conflicts with some of its county contractors.

Shayna Rattler, of the local National Association of Women Business Owners, says discussion is good, but adds measures must be in place to ensure equal opportunity.

"Obviously, history has shown that's necessary," she said.

The current county policy says since the county is 42.9 percent minority, 21.45 percent of employees working for private county contractors should be minorities.

Minorities include age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race and religion.

The rules apply only to companies which have 15 or more employees.

The county recently paid $45,000 in legal fees, after fiber optics firm Datacomm Services Corporation sued claiming it is unconstitutional to hire based on minority status.

Now, Bumpus-Harley and Overton Electric are suing the county in order to force it to drop the EOC requirement from their county contracts.

"Whether it's in the public or private sector, we ought to be striving to do business equally with everyone," said Rattler.

However, speaking anonymously, some county contractors said they can't find qualified employees under the county's current restrictions.

Rattler trains people to meet corporate standards and said it's worth investigating why quality talent is leaving Shelby County.

However, she said some companies are finding ways to meet county standards without lawsuits.

"The statistics show more women are starting businesses than anyone else," she said. "So if we really want to stimulate the economy and we want to see our housing market improve and our crime improve, you can't ignore it. We're not going anywhere. So you may as well let us do our thing."

Changing the county rule will require the full county commission's approval to pass.

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