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Legal Aid attorney nomination for County’s Human Rights Commission

Posted February 12, 2019
6:56 pm


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish on Tuesday nominated three people to serve on the county’s newly-formed Human Rights Commission and render judgments on discrimination complaints.

The nominees are:

Kimberly Barnett-Mills — The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, senior attorney in the family law unit. Former chief assistant prosecutor with the city of Cleveland. Former assistant public defender at the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office.

Timothy Downing — Ulmer & Berne LLP, partner. Current member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Emeritus Council. Background in labor and employment law.

Todd Masuda —Schneider Smeltz Spieth Bell LLP, partner. Background in labor and employment law. Member of Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.

If approved by Cuyahoga County Council members, the three attorneys will comprise the first iteration of the commission, which was formed through an anti-discrimination ordinance introduced by Budish in June and passed by Council in September.

It offers protections to people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, in addition to other classes of people of already protected through state and other laws. The protections target equal access to employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The members of the commission will not be paid. They will serve a two-year term beginning on March 1.

The commission will hear cases of potential discrimination and determine if discrimination occurred. If so, it can level civil penalties, award attorney fees, and order individuals to stop engaging in discriminatory practices. Commission members will also educate, hold community events and provide advice to council members and the county executive, according to a county news release.

By adding protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, Cuyahoga County joined 20 municipalities in Ohio with similar protections, including Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Olmsted Falls and South Euclid. State law does not offer the same protections.