Westwood City Council directs staff to draft non-discrimination ordinance; Roeland Park updates NDO language

Westwood’s City Council will consider adoption of a non-discrimination ordinance in the coming months.

After neighboring cities Mission Woods and Westwood Hills passed their own non-discrimination ordinances in recent months, the Westwood city council on Thursday directed city staff to begin drafting an ordinance of its own.

Such ordinances, which provide legal protections for LGBTQ+ residents and employees that are not offered under current federal or state law, have now been passed by six Shawnee Mission area cities: Mission Woods, Westwood Hills, Mission, Merriam, Prairie Village and Roeland Park.

Mission Hills has been considering an NDO as well.

Westwood will take up formal consideration of adoption of its own NDO once the ordinance language has been drafted.

Though such laws have been taken up by a number of local municipalities, the Shawnee Mission-area cities with the largest populations have either decided against initiating formal NDO consideration at this time, or have not taken the issue up at all. Overland Park passed a non-binding resolution affirming the city’s opposition to discrimination of any kind, but decided to wait and see if the Kansas legislature would pass state law addressing the matter before taking up its own city-level ordinance. Lenexa’s governing body was advised by the city attorney to wait until the federal Supreme Court rules on cases related to LGBTQ+ legal protections before deciding whether to proceed with consideration of a city-level ordinance. Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler said earlier this year that the council was keeping an eye on the issue.

Roeland Park updates NDO

Roeland Park, which was the first city in the area to take up and pass a non-discrimination ordinance back in 2014, last month amended the language of its ordinance to reflect some of the features included in the NDOs passed recently in Prairie Village and other cities.

Among the changes are:

  • The ordinance now applies to all groups, not just those based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • The ordinance now applies to all employers, not just “business license holders”
  • Instead of costs being split by the parties in a dispute, the costs will be born entirely by the perpetrator if the perpetrator is found guilty.
  • The judge can now impose a fine for claims that are determined to be frivolous