The City of Gainesville enacted an ordinance generally prohibiting discrimination within the City of Gainesville on the basis of race, sex, religion, and other classifications in the 1970s. On June 1, 1998, the City Commission added sexual orientation to the classifications protected by the ordinance. On September 26, 2000, the City of Gainesville and Alachua County entered into an inter-local agreement whereby the county agreed to extend its human rights ordinance to cover the protected classifications in the city’s discrimination ordinance with the exception of sexual orientation. The city continued to cover the protected classifications in its discrimination ordinance for city employees.
On November 5, 2002, Gainesville residents made a landmark decision with a charter amendment that reorganized the City’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), making the position of Equal Opportunity Director a Charter Officer reporting directly to the City Commission. With 27, 574 votes cast, 53.02% of Gainesville voters supported this charter amendment. Effective January 1, 2004 the City began again, to enforce, file, process and hear complaints of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit; relating to race, color, gender, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status and disability within the corporate limits of the City of Gainesville. On January 28, 2008, gender identity was added to the City’s ordinance.
Upon completion of a 90 day review of the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equal Opportunity Director Alston proposed several changes including restructuring the OEO’s Small Business Procurement Program thus creating a Small and Service-Disabled Veteran Business Procurement Program, revamping the procurement process to increase access, equity and diversity, and realigning procedures to include additional points for certified small and service-disabled veteran businesses in the procurement process. On January 21, 2016, the City Commission approved the Equal Opportunity Director’s recommendations.
Equal Opportunity Directors through the Years:
- Jimmie Williams – 2004 to 2009
- Cecil Howard – 2009 to 2015
- Torey L. Alston – 2015 to Present