human_rights.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE —The Broward County Commission recently amended the Broward County Human Rights Act in order to provide an enhanced level of service to residents.

The original law, enacted in 1978, was designed to safeguard individual freedom from discrimination and the amendment simplifies it and creates a single procedure for filing and investigating discrimination complaints.

Also, it renames the Broward County Civil Rights Division, which handles discrimination complaints, the Human Rights Section. That is intended to more accurately reflect the agency’s mission and position within the Broward County Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards, a county statement said.

The section handles housing and public accommodation discrimination complaints from members of the public and employment discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political affiliation and marital status for employers of 5-14 employees.

All other types of employment discrimination cases must now be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“The amended Human Rights Act is a more user friendly ordinance that corresponds to our new streamlined and more efficient operation,” Gretchen Harkins, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards, said in the statement. She is the primary executive officer in the investigative procedure.

Other changes included in the amendment establish terms for officers of the Human Rights Board and align provisions of the county ordinance with those of federal and state law.

Last year, the Civil Rights Division – now the Human Rights Section – dealt with 463 discrimination complaints, resulting in $255,342 in settlements to complainants.

For more information about these services, call 954-357-7800, or visit Room 426 in the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, or go to and click HUMAN RIGHTS.