Monthly Archives: February 2013

New Barment Policy- How Does it Work?

On December 20, 2012 the CRHA passed a new policy for barment and un-barment (no trespassing)

Residents and PHAR have worked hard to get one of the best policies possible that brings some fairness and dignity to residents and their friends and families.

We Want to Hear from You…
If you know someone who would like to have their bar lifted
PLEASE call PHAR at 434-984-3255 or e-mail us at brandon@pharinc.org so we can help make sure the process works and that your rights are respected…

We Are Looking Forward to Many People Coming off of the Bar List Soon!

Here is what the new policy says:
– 3 levels of timelines for unbarment: 6 months for nuisance misdemeanor, 2 years for non-violent crimes and minor drug offenses, up to 7 years for violent felonies, drug distribution, and domestic violence.
– Timelines assume someone is unbarred unless the ED shows reason not to unbar someone within 15 days of applying.
– Special permission for barred persons to visit residents.
– Right to appeal any decision about barment or un-barment by resident
– Clear outline for how police can stop someone in your neighborhood- reasonable suspicion is needed
– Written notice required to be given to the resident and the barred person stating why the person is barred
– New Policy Applies to the Current List!!!

 How to Get Unbarred and dealing with the Current List

Because the current list has not been maintained, and because the new policy applies to those currently on the list you may have an opportunity to get unbarred without applying!

–         Call PHAR if you know someone who wishes to be unbarred! We need to make sure the law is followed and that the process is implemented fairly! PHAR can let you know if you have been given the proper notice about barment and may be able to help you come off the list without applying!

–         If you have not received written notice stating the reason for barment you may not have to apply for un-barment!

–         If you want to use the new CRHA process please call PHAR first, and then visit the CRHA main office and ask to come off of the list- CRHA will require you to consent to a criminal background check.

If you know someone who is barred and would like to see them unbarred please call PHAR so we can assist in making sure that your family members and loved ones have the fastest, easiest, and fairest way off of the no trespassing list!

Call: (434) 984-3255
or e-mail: brandon@pharinc.org

Posted in Uncategorized.

PHAR Supports a Human Rights Commission with Enforcement Power!

Monday February 4
PUBLIC HEARING on Human Rights Commission

Please attend City Council Meeting this Monday to speak in favor of a Human Rights Commission WITH ENFORCEMENT POWER

listen to PHAR Service Coordinator Holly Edwards and PHAR Vice-Chair Joy Johnson discuss the HRC on “Charlottesville Right Now”
http://www.wina.com/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=6221610

How to speak at a public hearing- this is not the same as public comment. A public hearing is about a specific agenda item, it will be early on in the agenda- you do not have to sign up, though those who do will speak first.
City Hall in City Council Chambers
(downtown across from free speech wall, second floor)

Here’s some more information

Major reasons we need a local Human Rights Commission with enforcement authority as allowed by the Virginia Human Rights Act and as practiced in NOVA

The Bottom Line is:

1)A City like Charlottesville should be a leader in protecting the rights of all of its residents, visitors, university students and workers.  It is embarrassing that the Virginia Council has been moved into the Attorney General’s office, without an independent state commission for oversight.  It is embarrassing that the state anti-discrimination law is so limited, and yet some in Charlottesville want to limit your local commission to even less power than that provided by the Act! We need full power granted by the Virginia Human Rights Act

2) There has been solid support for a strong human rights Commission.

The Dialogue on Race Steering Committee voted 8-1 to support this proposal in October of 2011.

The Human Rights Task Force voted 6-4 to support such a Commission and voted to recommend:

• The City of Charlottesville develops and implements a strong anti-discrimination ordinance;

• The City of Charlottesville form a Human Rights Commission that is enabled to use the full scope of remedies provided by State and Federal statutes to uphold the ordinance; THIS IS THE PRNCE WILLIAM COUNTY MODEL.

• Ensure comprehensive anti-discrimination education and training opportunities are available to all members of the Charlottesville community;

The “Advocate Model” and the “Virginia Beach Model did not receive a majority vote of the HRTF but the Prince William Model did.

The Major Justice organizations in Charlottesville support such a strong Human Rights Commission

3)CHAMBER of Commerce in PWC OK with it-Not a tribunal

Graelyn Bashir of the Cville Weekly reports:
For almost two decades, the Prince William County Human Rights Commission has been receiving and resolving discrimination complaints. Debbie Jones, executive vice president at the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce, said the commission’s work hasn’t raised the hackles of the business owners her organization represents. “I’ve been in the Chamber world for 22 years, and I don’t recall there being anything negative about it,” she said. 

The Idea for an Advocate Position in City Hall is weak because:

1. Does not include a citizens commission oversight and that might lead to legitimacy problems

2. Does not parallel the Virginia Human Rights Act

3. Does not include a formal system like those found in HRCs in NOVA that protect the privacy of all parties

4. Does not allow us to become a EEOC or HUD contractor if we want

5. Leaves people reliant on external agencies that will not be as responsive as a local Commission with enforcement powers

The Problems with the Local EEOC office idea is:

1. Charlottesville would not be included in the Washington Field Office jurisdiction, so you would probably have to rely on the Charlotte District Office, which is not workable. Contacted Richmond Office and they say it is unlikely Charlottesville will get much assistance from EEOC field office. Advised to set up PWC like HRC first.

2. The EEOC/FEPA program is not very flexible; NOVA Commissions have tried a couple of times to amend the EEOC prototype contract, but was informed by EEOC headquarters that they must agree to all provisions or risk losing the funding.

3. Congress intended, in passing the Civil Rights Act (and its amendments), that there would be a network of state and local agencies nationwide to augment the EEOC district office scheme.

4. Everyone arguably should have equal access to assistance and a local Commission ensures that.

5. In the experience of Human Rights Commission in NOVA, EEOC district offices often cannot handle the volume of charges, so they utilize a priority evaluation system and often dismiss charges that they in local offices would resolve.

Benefits of Local Commission with enforcement powers:

Disposition time Quicker than EEOC

In Alexandria, they conclude most investigations in 180 days, while the average case age in the federal EEOC system is much greater.  The longer a case is open the more likely it will be that witnesses are unavailable or evidence is lost.

Using the time factor, we argued, and showed using data from existing HRCs that complaints are handled more quickly by local HRCs than by the feds. Thus allowing businesses to get these allegations behind them and get on with business instead of being tied up in a case for as much as 5 years dealing with EEOC. This also provided an earlier opportunity for the business to be cleared of allegations that were not true.

Strong HR COMMISSION More Likely to USE Alternative Dispute Res.

Also Local HRCs are able to move quickly on alternative dispute resolution, which benefits both complainants and respondents.  In Alexandria, the rate of closing cases by ADR is four times the EEOC national average.

The Virginia Human Rights Act is woefully inadequate for protecting the rights of Virginians.  There are many employers in Virginia who have fewer than 15 employees (or 20 re age discrimination).  The Act is limited with respect to bases (protected classes), issues and remedies.  Virginia employers can still mistreat their employees in many ways.

Commissions dismiss frivolous claims, Have Credibility

I know that the Chamber and the Rotary bristle at the idea of enabling employees to file cases against their members.  But, there are these groups, and legislators who are reluctant, by focusing on unscrupulous employers.  Most employers want to do the right thing and welcome our assistance.  We dismiss frivolous claims and work closely with the employment bar in Virginia, so we have built up credibility as professionals enforcing the law.

Commissions provide training and assistance to businesses (when we have the budget to do so!) and intervene in local disputes of many kinds.

Commissions deal with issues other than Employment

The state law also covers public accommodations, Credit, and private education which the EEOC cannot.

In addition to Race, such Commissions protect other protected classes are color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, marital status and disability. In effect, it covers everybody. Therefore, everyone has an interest in ensuring that they are treated fairly under the law.

Local commissions can educate businesses and the public on service animals, for example, or mediate matters alleging discrimination in public accommodations.

Usually there is not blatant discrimination occurring, but rather an inexperienced or insensitive person making a mistake.  Intervening in these matters benefits the community.

Commissions balance Enforcement with Outreach

The bottom line is, if we do this right, we balance enforcement with outreach and training, and we collaborate to assess social conditions that might lead to discrimination and to solve systemic problems.

The Commission also can conduct studies and hearings and make policy recommendations to Council.

Commissions so enabled can get EEOC and HUD Funding

The possibility of garnering contract funding from the EEOC for cases with concurrent federal jurisdiction will convince some to support an enforcement provision in your local code

Some of the best arguments we used for getting the Human Rights Act passed was based on time, money and the state’s right (they liked that one) and capability to handle these complaints instead of having them handled by the Federal Government.

COST TO BUSINESSES is LOWER with Strong HRC Model

The cost factor to businesses was much less when allegations were resolved at the local level instead of dealing over the long term with the feds, lawyers and court trials. When handled at the local level, the complainants and the businesses do not have to hire and pay lawyers to get a local resolution that is consi stent with federal and state law. This has a direct and positive impact on a business’ bottom line.

Local Control Better than Federal control

as a matter of principal, the state and local HRCs were much preferred over the feds when it comes to resolving such matters that arise locally. That having local people assembling and interpreting the facts in these cases led to increased acceptance of the decisions than when an outside entity, with no knowledge or concern for the local community comes in and issues a decision in a case.

A former Commissioner from NOVA said:

Over my 40+ years of being involved at the local level in Fairfax County and at the state level, I am not aware of any responding business entity being able to show that they were treated unfairly by any local or state entity that investigated and decided their case. In fact, we have had responding businesses, and sometimes their lawyers, note how well and professionally the HRCs work was done. Further, of the few cases that were not settled locally and ended up in court (only a small fraction of 1 percent), the court has ruled consistently with the findings of the local or state investigation. As a matter of fact, we have had some business entities recommend that businesses work with the local HRCs instead of using the feds or lawsuits to get resolution of these types of cases. You can invite the local Chamber of Commerce, or you might do it yourself, to check with their counterparts in Fairfax, Alexandria and Prince William to get their input regarding their experience with their local HRCs. I would expect that most of the feedback will be positive.

Posted in Uncategorized.