June 24, 2009
Category: Equal Opportunity
Employment Non-Discrimination Act Introduced in U.S. House
Measure would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, hailed today the bipartisan reintroduction of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would create federal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The lead sponsors of the measure are Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), IIeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Castle (R-DE), George Miller (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).
"Just like our friends, neighbors and coworkers, LGBT Americans work hard, provide for our families and contribute to our nation's economy," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We all share the challenges of today's economic downturn, but our community also faces arbitrary discrimination in the workplace, simply because of who we are and who we love. Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and ensure that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, get a fair chance to succeed at work."
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person's sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill would reflect the values, shared by the vast majority of Americans, that employment decisions should be based on a person's qualifications and work ethic.
An estimated 85% of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their equal employment policies, and more than one-third also include gender identity. More than 60 companies have joined the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading U.S. employers that support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. To view a list of the companies, visit: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/06/enda-introduction-tomorrow-corporations-agree-fairness-is-good-business/
"Although more and more businesses in the United States have started addressing workplace fairness for LGBT employees, we still need a federal standard that treats all employees the same way. That's why Nike is part of the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading companies that support passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," said Orson Porter, U.S. Director of Government Affairs.
"Chubb is unwavering in its support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The principles it fosters are consistent with our corporate principles of treating all employees with fairness and respect," said Donna Griffin, senior vice president and chief diversity officer, The Chubb Corporation. "ENDA will have a positive impact on our country's ability to compete on the world stage, by extending legal protection in the majority of states where employees can still be turned down for a job, or fired, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
ENDA is supported by a broad range of civil rights, religious, civic and professional organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, AFSCME, National Education Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Anti-Defamation League, Religious Action Center, Unitiarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, American Civil Liberties Union, and many others.
Currently, federal law provides legal protection against employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. In 30 states across America, it is still legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states, it is still legal to fire someone for being transgender.
In 2007, the House passed a version of ENDA that protected on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity, on a vote of 235 to 184.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.