SCOUTS HIT ON HOMOSEXUAL POLICY HEARING OFFICER RULES GROUP VIOLATED CITY LAW WITH OFFICE'S STATED REFUSAL TO HIRE A GAY MAN
Chicago Tribune (CT) - WEDNESDAY, September 20, 1995
By: Terry Wilson, Tribune Staff Writer.
A hearing officer has found that the Chicago Area Council of the
Boy Scouts of America violated the city's human rights ordinance for refusing to hire gays and lesbians, attorneys said Tuesday.
Hearing officer Jeffrey L. Taren, who heard testimony in the case of a North Side man who was told there was "no way" the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts would hire a homosexual man, recommended that the Chicago Commission on Human Relations find the Scouts in violation of the ordinance.
"There is nothing associated with the hiring of
an openly gay man which would require the (Scouts) to alter anything other than its discriminatory hiring policy," Taren found.
In his 75-page ruling, Taren, however, said the Scouts could prohibit employees from expressing personal opinions that are contrary to Scout oaths and policies.
Richard Walker, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization is "disappointed" with the ruling and that it plans to enter objections to the commission regarding
"This is one examiner's opinion," Walker said. "We're still waiting for the full commission to accept or reject his findings."
The issue was raised by G. Keith Richardson, 34, who had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and was admitted to the Order of the Arrow, an honor bestowed only to a few scouts.
On May 22, 1992, 10 years after Richardson left the Scouts, Richardson called the council and asked a spokeswoman if the Scouts would
hire a gay man. The spokeswoman replied, "no way," according to testimony in the hearing last April.
Richardson had been contacted by a national organization called Forgotten Scouts, which was looking for a case to use in its fight against the organization's hiring procedures that exclude homosexuals, according to testimony. Represented the American Civil Liberties Union, Richardson filed suit against the Chicago Council of Scouts, seeking $1 million in damages for violating
the city's Human Rights Ordinance.
Attorneys for the Boy Scouts of America argued at the hearing that the Scouts were a religious organization and that such status exempted them from the city ordinance, which bans discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation and other categories.
Scout attorneys also argued they have a 1st Amendment right to freedom of association.
But Taren ruled the council is not a religious organization and thus not exempt from coverage. And
because the council's specified goal is not to oppose homosexuality, its right to associational expression has not been violated, Taren ruled.
Taren did not compel the Scouts to hire Richardson because he said he found Richardson was a "tester" for a legal challenge to the Scouts' hiring policy and not a serious job applicant.
He recommended Richardson be awarded a nominal $500 in damages.
"It was not as much a victory for me as it is for the whole concept of
stopping discrimination against lesbians and gay men," Richardson said. "With all the other cities and states (that have such ordinances) the Boy Scouts will have to change their policy soon or deal with hundreds of cases just like this."
Richardson, who is a housing court liaison for the clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, said he was looking for work three years ago when he filed the suit but would not accept the job now.
ACLU attorney Harvey Grossman said the
impact of the ruling will be widespread. There are 130 cities and towns in the US., including Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Seattle and Portland that have ordinances that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. Additionally, there are nine states with laws that bar similar discrimination.
"We really hope that some of the municipal agencies and county agencies that sponsor the Boy Scouts . . . encourage the Scouts to abandon this policy," Grossman said.
is expected to rule within six months.
CHICAGO BOY SCOUT COUNCIL FINED FOR DISCRIMINATING AGAINST GAY
Chicago Tribune (CT) - THURSDAY, February 22, 1996
By: Terry Wilson, Tribune Staff Writer.
The Chicago Commission on Human Relations on Wednesday found that the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America
discriminated when it told a gay man he need not apply for a job at the council.
The commission fined the council $100 for violating the city's human rights ordinance and ordered the organization to pay the man $500 in damages.
In its ruling, which agreed with a hearing officer's finding last September, the commission ordered the council to refrain from discriminating against gays and lesbians for employment in the future.
"It sends a message that discrimination in
employment is wrong," said Roger Leishman, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented G. Keith Richardson, the man who was told not to seek employment.
Richardson was awarded $500 for emotional distress by the commission.
A statement issued by the Boy Scouts of America national headquarters said the group was disappointed with the finding and will appeal the decision.
"Scouting has a right as a private organization to maintain the traditional
values it has held since 1910," the statement said.
In 1992, Richardson, 35, of the North Side, called to inquire about employment opportunities and was told there was "no way" the Chicago area council would hire a gay man. Richardson, who had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and who was admitted to the elite Order of the Arrow, an honor bestowed only on a few, testified that he lapsed into a depression.
ACLU of Illinois Lauds Court Ruling That Chicago Boy Scouts Cannot Discriminate Based on Sexual Orientation
Press Release 8/13/99
Chicago, August 13, 1999: The ACLU of Illinois today hailed a decision handed down on Thursday, August 12, 1999, by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Stephen A. Schiller barring the
Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America (CAC) from considering the sexual orientation of applicants in employment decisions.
The case, Chicago Area Council of Boy Scouts of America v. City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and G. Keith\ Richardson, closely mirrors the recent ruling of the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey in Dale v. Boy Scouts of America. In that matter, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the Boy Scouts anti-gay policies and declared that the
Boy Scouts held themselves out as open to the public and was, therefore, subject to state anti-discrimination laws.
The Cook County court is equally direct in the assessment that for the Boy Scouts "the mere sexual orientation of an employee . . . is not related to any nondiscriminatory basis for denying opportunities for employment."
"When this ruling is considered in the context of the Dale decision last week, the courts' collective message to the Boy Scouts is
powerful, clear and unmistakable," said Roger Leishman, Director of the ACLU/Roger Baldwin Foundation Gay and Lesbian Rights/AIDS and Civil Liberties Project, reacting to the decision.
"The courts will no longer tolerate the Boy Scouts' discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation. It is time for the Boy Scouts to bring a voluntary end to these practices and to embrace the most important values we can share with young people - tolerance and inclusion."
Richardson case was argued by staff attorneys of the ACLU of Illinois on behalf of Mr. Keith Richardson, a former Eagle Scout who was denied consideration for employment by the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts in 1992. Judge Schiller's decision upholding a 1996 ruling by the City of Chicago Human Relations Commission forces an end to the Scouts' practice of discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, and prohibits the Scouts from publishing and distributing any
materials within the City of Chicago that indicate any discriminatory criteria for employment.
The decision of the court supports a central argument articulated by the ACLU - namely, that an individual's sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to accomplish successfully the duties of any job. The court specifically ruled that the discrimination against Mr. Richardson by the Boy Scouts was particularly grievous because of the very public, inclusive nature of the
organization. The Circuit Court and the City of Chicago Commission on Human Rights especially noted that the Boy Scouts have a strong tradition of tolerating and including a wide range of religious and moral viewpoints within their membership and among their sponsoring organizations. Discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, the court found, is antithetical to this long tradition and practice of inclusion and tolerance.
"I am personally thankful for the judge's
ruling," said Keith Richardson, who became an Eagle Scout in 1974. "It should be pointed out, however, that this decision is broader and encompasses more than my own efforts to gain employment with the Boy Scouts. It is a signal that, from now on, all people - regardless of their sexual orientation - will have an equal opportunity to continue their participation in Scouting through employment. My hope is that the result will be a more tolerant, more inclusive and stronger Boy Scouts
Volunteer attorneys Charles H.R. Peters of Schiff, Hardin & Waite, Chicago, and Ms. Ann Rae Heitland of Flagstaff, Arizona assisted the ACLU in this case.
SCOUTS' POLICY TO NOT HIRE GAYS STANDS, FOR NOW
By Tom Ragan
Tribune Staff Writer
September 09, 1999
The Chicago Area Council of Boy Scouts won a temporary victory Wednesday when the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that its anti-homosexual hiring policy could remain intact--at least until the court issues a decision.
Carla Kerr, an attorney representing the Chicago Area Council, said the council hadn't been sure where it stood on its hiring policy while it appealed a Cook County Circuit Court judge's ruling nearly a month
"We were kind of in limbo, but now we know that the Boy Scouts have the right to enforce their policy until the Appellate Court rules on the appeal itself," Kerr said.
Circuit Court Judge Stephen A. Schiller ruled Aug. 12 that the council could not discriminate against gay applicants solely on the basis of sexual orientation.
Keith Richardson filed a class-action suit against the council in May 1992, charging the Boy Scouts discriminated against him when he was told
he could not apply for employment because he is gay.
Schiller's decision upheld a February 1996 ruling by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, which said such a hiring practice violates a city ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
However, Schiller also said the Scouts council retains the right to deny employment to anybody it "reasonably believes" is using the organization to "discuss issues regarding sex."
Ruling gives Scouts leeway on hiring gays
Appeals panel lifts injunction
Chicago Tribune, May 2, 2001
By Robert Becker
The Illinois Appellate Court on Tuesday lifted an injunction that blocked a local umbrella organization
for the Boy Scouts from considering sexual orientation when screening applicants for paid staff positions.
At the same time, however, the three-judge panel made it clear that the Scout organization could not automatically reject gay applicants for clerical jobs and other positions that were not high profile or policy making.
In issuing its opinion, the Appellate Court ordered the city's Commission on Human Relations, which had issued the injunction in 1996, to gather more facts in
a 9-year-old discrimination complaint filed by G. Keith Richardson, who had inquired about a post with the Scouts.
Citing a recent US. Supreme Court decision allowing the Scouts to ban gays from high profile or policy positions, the appellate panel said it wanted the commission to determine what kind of job Richardson was seeking when he sent a letter to the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1992 asking about employment opportunities.
Richardson's inquiry led to
the commission's action against the Chicago council, which was upheld in 1999 by Circuit Judge Stephen Schiller.
In dismissing the injunction, Appellate Judge William Cousins characterized the commission's action as "overly broad."
Said Cousins: "The city's interest in eradicating employment discrimination would not justify such a severe intrusion on the Boy Scouts' rights to freedom of expressive association."
Representatives on all sides
claimed victory in the ruling. Jennifer Hoyle, a spokesman for the city's Law Department, said "We're actually pleased with the decision." Hoyle said the appellate action -- in conjunction with the recent Supreme Court decision -- means that groups don't have carte blanche to discriminate in all positions.
George Davidson, an attorney representing the Chicago Area Council, said his client is pleased that the courts have protected the Scouts' "decision to
limit employment to those that accept Scouting values." Davidson added that the ban on gays is limited to policy making and more public positions -- not support staff jobs in the council's office such as accountants and computer personnel.
Last June, the US. Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to exclude gays as troop leaders and, possibly, as members. In the Chicago case, Richardson, a former Eagle Scout, told the Chicago Area Council that he was gay
"and very interested in any job opening with the [council]." Told by a council representative that the Boy Scouts would not hire an openly homosexual person, Richardson filed a complaint with the commission.