Employment Non-Discrimination Act: Stories of Discrimination
Kimya - Michigan
Kimya has a master’s degree in social work and nearly two decades of experience in the field. She was the manager of a unit of a long-term care facility for sufferers of Alzheimer’s and dementia. She enjoyed her job, and was good at it, but suffered through nearly a year of threatening messages, vandalism to her car and slurs uttered in the halls. In 2003, she was fired, her supervisors telling her, "This would not be happening if you were not a lesbian." Kimya sought out legal help, but quickly learned that nothing in Michigan law protected her from being fired because of her sexual orientation.
Michael - Massachusetts
Michael joined the police department right out of college, fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a police officer. When an academy classmate suspected to be gay was assaulted after their graduation party, he quickly learned that he’d have to keep his sexual orientation a secret. But years of hiding it, while daily risking his life to protect his community, took its toll. After falling into drinking and depression, Michael left the police force. He was finally able to get help and the courage to be honest about himself. A few years later, he reapplied to the force, this time as an openly gay man. But unlike four other former officers who also sought reinstatement, only Michael was refused. Luckily, Massachusetts law protected him and Michael was able, after a two-and-a-half-year investigation, to get his job back. He continues to serve proudly, and openly, as a decorated police officer.
Linda - Virginia
Linda, an attorney, relocated to Virginia when her partner accepted a faculty position at a university there. In August 2000, Linda was invited for a second interview at a Virginia law firm. During the interview, Linda was asked why she was moving to Virginia, and she replied that her spouse had taken a position at a local university. The law firm asked Linda to come back for a final interview, which would include a dinner with all the partners and their spouses "to make sure we all got along." At that point, Linda told one of the partners at the law firm that her spouse was a woman. Soon after, Linda was told that the firm would not hire a lesbian and she should not bother coming to the third interview.
Kathleen - Iowa
Kathleen was a research assistant in a lab at a university in Iowa. She had been working in the lab for three years when she told her supervisor and her co-workers that she was transgender and would be transitioning from male to female. Within weeks, the department administrator told Kathleen that because of her "condition" the lab felt she could no longer give sufficient effort to the department. When Kathleen complained to the university’s affirmative action office, they ordered her not to be terminated as long as she agreed to find work in another department. Unfortunately, despite interviews in other departments, no one would hire her. She ultimately quit and left Iowa in 2002.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA simply affords to all Americans basic employment protection from discrimination based on irrational prejudice. Learn more here.