Some changes are in store for the Utah Labor Commission's Anti-Discrimination Advisory Council, which hasn't met since June 1997 mainly because Gov. Mike Leavitt failed to appoint new members.
Once the governor has signed HB233, which was passed in the recently concluded legislative session, Labor Commissioner R. Lee Ellertson will begin the appointment process so that after the law becomes effective May 4, he could be having a meeting in late May or early June.HB233 took the governor off the hook for appointing people to the often controversial council and placed the burden on Ellertson's shoulders. State law requires that he appoint five employer representatives, five employee representatives and five members from the public at large.
In making the appointments, El-lert-son is directed to consider people from the protected classes of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age and people with disabilities.
The law also states that the labor commissioner will be the chairman, a departure from the past when the three members of the now-defunct State Industrial Commission attended the meetings chaired by a council member.
State law requires the council to meet at lease once each quarter, and Ellertson plans to call meetings to fulfill that requirement and could call additional meetings as needed.
The council was formed several years ago to advise the old Industrial Commission on anti-discrimination issues, but when the Leg-is-lature passed SB166 in the 1997 general session to create the Utah Department of Workforce Services and change the Industrial Commission into the Labor Commission, the governor was supposed to appoint the new mem-bers.
On many occasions, former council members battled the three former industrial commissioners and the director of the Utah Anti-Discrimination Division mainly over obtaining statistics about how many discrimination cases were filed, how many were settled and how much money the division received from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Former council members also were upset about not being included in the process to pick a new division director to replace the former director who resigned. The commissioners relented, the council suggested some people as a replacement, but in the end it was the commission that made the decision to hire Joseph Gallegos.
Some critics of the council said the group spent most of its meeting time spinning its wheels over past issues, but they also said the council helped the division change its policies that helped reduce the time between when a complaint was filed and when the case was settled or closed.