Did you know that it’s considered legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states and for being transgender in 34 states? If you didn’t, don’t worry, you’re like a majority of people across the United States, including many here in Indiana, who may not be aware of the fact that LGBT employees are not as protected as we may think in the workplace. More surprising still, even many state legislators are under the impression that laws are already in place to protect these workers and have even voted against new legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
But as many recent workplace discrimination lawsuits have pointed out, this simply isn’t the case. That’s why a bipartisan group of lawmakers have put together a new bill that could make it against federal law to discriminate against LGBT employees.
Introduced this month in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the new bill, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is modeled after Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. While existing legislation prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, or disability, some have pointed out that the LGBT community is largely unrepresented. ENDA proposes to fix that by creating a national ban on workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans and making it illegal for employers to allow for a hostile work environment under these circumstances.
Despite bills like ENDA not seeing Senate votes in nearly 17 years, supporters of the new bill feel that it could see the necessary 60 votes needed to pass onto the upper house. If the bill passes, federal laws will finally be put in place to protect those employees that 90 percent of Americans falsely assumed were already being protected under current law.
Source: MSNBC News, “The fight for ENDA: Think you can’t be fired for being gay? Think again,” Emma Margolin, April 25, 2013