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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 07 May 2009

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries today announced a new citizens leadership panel advising the agencies of civil rights trends and helping chart its course for the future.

The panel's co-chairs are Connie Ashbrook of Oregon Tradeswomen and James Mason, director of Diversity Education and Cultural Competence for Providence Health and Services in Oregon.

Other board members include: Cal Henry, founder and president of the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs; Dawn Holt of LifeWorks Northwest; Rep. Tina Kotek; Sarah Mensah of the Oregon TrailBlazers; State Sen. Frank Morse; Urban League of Portland CEO and President Marcus Mundy; and others.

"We have assembled a diverse team of Oregon civil rights leaders that bring decades of experience and represent a wide cross-section of Oregon communities," said Commissioner Bradley Avakian. "Working with BOLI's Civil Rights Division, I am confident that the OCCR will be a key player in advancing civil rights in Oregon and fighting unlawful discrimination of all forms."

The OCCR will study and monitor the causes, effects and solutions of unlawful discrimination in Oregon, Avakian said. They will consider and propose legislative and agency-based actions and solutions; foster communication, goodwill, cooperation, and conciliation among groups interested in civil rights across the state; and they will advise the state at-large on policies and procedures related to civil rights.

The first meeting of the OCCR will be July 16 at BOLI's headquarters in Portland. A comprehensive description of the OCCR structure, leadership, and meeting schedule and member biographies, can be found on the OCCR website, click here.

"There is nothing more important we do in public service than ensuring the individual rights of people," said Commissioner Avakian. "A valuable part of doing that effectively is hearing first hand the struggles and successes of people living in Oregon's diverse communities. Citizen participation is a necessary piece to addressing the causes, effects and solutions of unlawful discrimination in our state."

The Bureau of Labor and Industries is Oregon's chief law enforcement agency for protecting people's civil rights in employment, housing and public accommodation. BOLI's Civil rights

Division enforces laws that protect workers from unlawful discrimination, including retaliation when workers report safety violations, use family leave provisions or file for workers' compensation. The division also protects those who suffer unlawful discrimination when seeking housing or using public facilities such as restaurants, theaters and stores. Each year, the division fields an average of 30,000 inquiries and investigates over 2,200 cases.

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