Article 3.14 gave the HRYR Commission responsibility for “the development of opportunities within Brookline and the Metropolitan area, for those who are discriminated against and restricted by their race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex or age, sexual orientation, and the elimination of all and any barriers to their choice of jobs, education, and housing.... [to] increase communication across racial lines to destroy stereotypes....[and to] increase the capacity of public and private institutions to respond to the problems of the disadvantaged....”
Article 3.14 tasked the HRYR Commission with developing affirmative action guidelines on town employment and town contracting with the approval of the Board of Selectmen to ensure treatment “without regard to … race, color, national origin or ancestry, or religion, sex or age, or sexual orientation,” and administering with the appropriate departments and agencies of the town the contracting-related affirmative action guidelines. It also assigned the handling of complaints to the commission.
Article 4.4, enacted the same year, also gave the commission a role with regard to ensuring fairness in town contracts.
Affirmative action guidelines were developed and adopted by the town. However, the affirmative action guidelines, last amended in 1994, are out of date. In addition, there have been developments in the case law since they were adopted that create tension between constitutional provisions guaranteeing the right to equal protection of the laws and certain aspects of affirmative action generally.
In 1988, Town Meeting adopted Article 5.5, the town’s Fair Housing Bylaw. Article 5.5 creates a local prohibition against housing discrimination on the basis of race, color creed, religion and other protected classes. It tasked the commission with studying housing discrimination concerns and developing trainings in this area, and receiving and investigating housing discrimination complaints.
It also tasked the commission with reporting the investigation results to the Board of Selectmen, or, if the complainant desired, assisting complainants with filing a housing discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).
In 2000, Town Meeting enacted Article 3.15 of the town bylaws (Human Resources Program, Human Resources Board and Human Resources Office) to supersede the former personnel bylaw. Its stated purpose is to “ensure the establishment of fair and equitable Human Resources policies for the Town of Brookline and its employees; and to provide a system of Human Resources administration that is uniform, fair, and efficient and which represents the mutual interests of the citizens of the town and the employees of the town.”
- Article 3.15.7 established the Human Resources Department as a unit under the jurisdiction of the Town Administrator and the selectmen.
- Article 3.15.9 states that “[w]ritten policies to implement the town’s Human Resources Program, as approved by the Board of Selectmen, shall be developed and adopted under the authority of this bylaw.”
- Article 3.15.7 assigned the Human Resource Director responsibility for administration of the “Human Resources Program.”
- In 3.15.2, the bylaw defined the “Human Resources Program” to include “the recruiting, hiring, and retention of employees on the basis of their relative ability, knowledge, and skills” and “assuring fair treatment of all applicants and employees in all aspects of personnel administration without regard to” protected classifications such as “race, color, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, handicap or religion” and “with proper regard for privacy” and “constitutional rights.”
- Article 3.15.2(g) also defines the “Human Resources Program” to include “[i]n cooperation with the Department of Human Relations-Youth Resources, striving for diversity in the town workforce by, among other things, adhering to the town’s affirmative action guidelines, and generally assuring an environment throughout town government that fosters community relations, mutual respect, understanding, and tolerance.”