What is a Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO)

    A Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) would prohibit discrimination in the City of Denton based on a set of protected classes. Some local governments have passed NDOs to add protections for those classes not expressly covered under federal or state law, which may include sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to other classes.

    Is the City of Denton considering passing an NDO?

    Yes, the Denton City Council has discussed and developed a draft NDO over the past few months. The City Council has received reports and discussed an NDO on Sept. 14, 2021, Nov. 9, 2021, and Jan. 4, 2022. The City Council has requested community input prior to considering the adoption of an NDO in the spring of 2022.  More background and information on the development of the draft NDO can be found in the Council work session resources for Sept. 14, 2021 (video | materials) and Nov. 9, 2021 (video | materials).

    What is covered under the City of Denton's Draft NDO?

    The draft NDO would prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations based upon race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

    Are there any exclusions to the draft ordinance?

    The ordinance would not apply to religious organizations, the United States government (or any of its departments or agencies), or the State of Texas (or any of its departments, agencies, or political subdivisions).

    Additionally, there are some exclusions in each individual section of housing, employment, and public accommodations to generally mirror the exclusions found in federal and state non-discrimination laws.

    Are restrooms or other similar facilities excluded from the draft ordinance?

    No. Under the draft NDO, an individual cannot be denied access to the restrooms or other similar facilities in an establishment that serves the public on the basis of one of the defined protected classes, including on the basis of a person’s gender identity.

    How could a complaint be filed to report discrimination?

    Under the draft ordinance, an individual who claims to have been discriminated against in violation of the ordinance may file a complaint, made under oath or affirmation, on a form prescribed by the City within ninety (90) calendar days after an alleged unlawful practice has occurred.

    How would the complaint be handled?

    The draft ordinance establishes a process and timeline for how the complaint would be handled. Within ten (10) business days after filing the complaint, one of the four following dispositions would be made:

    1. Refer the complainant to the appropriate public agency if it is within the jurisdiction of a federal or state agency;
    2. Deny the complaint due to incomplete information;
    3. Deny the complaint because it is legally deficient or untimely;
    4. Accept the complaint for further investigation.

    As stated above, the City will refer complaints to federal and state agencies if it is within those agencies’ jurisdiction. At this time, all complaints of discrimination related to Housing or Employment on the list of protected classes would be referred to the respective federal or state agency. 

    What if the complaint cannot be referred to another public agency and it is accepted for investigation by the City?

    The draft ordinance outlines a process for the investigation of a complaint, including notifying the respondent (accused), advising them on their procedural rights and obligations, and allow them to file a response to the complaint. The City would use a contracted third-party to conduct the investigation, which may include reviewing statements, conducting interviews, or contacting any witnesses.

    If during or after the investigation, it is determined that there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred, the City shall attempt to resolve the complaint between the parties.

    What if the complaint cannot be resolved between the parties? Is there a penalty?

    If there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred and the complaint cannot be resolved, it may be referred to the City’s Attorney’s Office for review. If the City Attorney’s Office believe it meets the standards for prosecution, the case may be heard in Municipal Court as a Class C misdemeanor, which if found guilty, carries a maximum $500 fine per violation (per City ordinance and state law).

    What if there is no reasonable cause found that discrimination occurred?

    If investigated, and there is not reasonable cause that the reported discrimination occurred, the complaint shall be closed.

    What are the exceptions for confidentiality?

    The City will keep information confidential to the extent allowed by law. The complaint, the investigative report, and any evidence collected therein, shall be subject to public disclosure pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act. Prior to any release, documents related to the complaint/investigation shall be reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office to ensure information that is excepted from disclosure by state law, federal law, or common law privacy is redacted.

    What if provisions of the draft ordinance are against my sincerely held religious belief(s)?

    In the State of Texas, the Texas Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) prohibits government from infringing on religion and allows individuals to challenge laws that “substantially” burden their practice of religion. An individual may claim this as a defense from being in violation of the local ordinance.  

    How do I submit my feedback and input on the draft ordinance?

    Share your input and feedback on the draft ordinance using the survey on this page. In addition, community members can also submit input to the Denton City Council at www.cityofdenton.com/citycouncil.

    When will the draft NDO be considered for approval and if approved, when would it be effective?

    City staff anticipates the City Council to consider final adoption of the ordinance in early Spring 2022. The ordinance is drafted to be effective 120 calendar days after adoption to allow time for public education and to establish the necessary processes.