The Baltimore County Human Relations Commission is preparing legislation that would give financial compensation to victims of discrimination.
The proposal is intended to provide more than back wages in employment discrimination cases, Commission Director John S. Singleton said recently. For example, reimbursement could be ordered for workers who have lost their homes or cars after being unfairly fired, or in sexual discrimination cases where a victim has suffered damage other than job loss.
Providing compensation beyond back wages would set Baltimore County law apart from that of the state, Baltimore City, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Mr. Singleton said.
"It's been very frustrating trying to enforce the law without any meaningful remedy," he added.
The legislation, which is supported by the Hayden administration, would also probably set limits on the amount of compensation, based on the number of employees in a company, Mr. Singleton said.
In addition, the commission is creating a mediation system using the services of 35 lawyer-volunteers to help resolve cases.
Once both parties agree to mediation, the regular discrimination investigation would be put on hold for 30 days. If no agreement is reached in that time, the investigation would resume, Mr. Singleton said.
The commission is preparing its first two public hearings on discrimination cases, though no dates have been set.
One case involves four former waitresses for the Brass Horse restaurant in White Marsh who leveled sexual discrimination charges against the establishment in November 1991. The waitresses claimed that they were told they had to date patrons who "won" them in weekly raffles. The waitresses charge that three were fired after they refused and the fourth quit after her hours were sharply reduced.
The other case is against Rite Aid drug stores. Several black former security guards who were fired in the past two years have filed job discrimination charges.
The commission has handled 75 to 80 discrimination complaints a year since September 1989, Mr. Singleton said. Three of four complaints involve employment discrimination. The majority of the rest involve discrimination in public accommodations, frequently in apartment rentals. But a growing number of complaints involve sexual harassment of women, Mr. Singleton said. Forty percent of the cases are settled informally.
In June, Mr. Singleton will leave the director's post. His replacement is Celestine Morgan, former state director of Equal Employment Opportunity.