Corporate America is leading the way in creating LGBT-friendly and inclusive work environments by adopting inclusive workplace policies protecting LGBT employees from discrimination on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. For the first time in history, in 2012 the majority of the Fortune 500 companies provided workplace anti-discrimination protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity. In spite of these organization-level policies, there is still no federal legislation to protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace. In fact, under states' laws gay, lesbian, and bisexual people can still be fired because of their sexual orientation in 29 states, and transgender people can be legally fired in 34 states.
Once you've learned about workplace fairness legislation and how you can help advocate for our LGBT loved ones, visit Straight for Equality to learn more about the work PFLAG National is doing on the ground in corporations and organizations all over the country!
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2013
The bill was reintroduced in the House as H.R. 1755 by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and in the Senate as S. 815 by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), both on April 25, 2013. On Thursday, November 7th, the Senate the inclusive ENDA with a bipartisan vote of 64-32, with 10 Republican Senators joining the full Democratic delegation.
On July 23, 2014, Representative Jared Polis introduced a resolution (H. Res. 678) that would narrow the breadth of the religious exemption of the original bill to mirror that in existing federal anti-discrimination and civil rights laws. The resolution calls for the standards for religious organizations to be the same as they are in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The standards would also protect people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity in the same way in which those standards are applied to protected classes.
What this Bill Will Do:
The inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, which by definition includes gender expression. These protections are desperately needed because in 29 states, an employer may legally fire or refuse to hire someone based on sexual orientation, and in 34 states an employer may legally fire or refuse to hire someone because of gender identity or gender expression.
What you Need to Ask for:
Call or email your U.S. Representative today to urge them to tell Speaker Boehner to bring ENDA (H.R. 1755), to the House Floor for a vote and, when it comes for a vote, to vote YES on ENDA. This bipartisan, bicameral bill promotes workplace fairness, and prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and would give all Americans the same workplace protections as each other. Everyone in our families should have the same opportunities to be interviewed, hired, work and be promoted based exclusively on merit, and that is what ENDA would deliver. The President on-the-record said that he would sign ENDA into law, and there are exemptions in place for small business while many larger companies today are already implementing protections similar to or the same as ENDA. Reach your Congresspeople today and thank them if they are already a cosponsor, invite them to cosponsor if they do not yet, and urge them to tell Speaker Boehner to bring ENDA for a vote, and to vote YES when presented on the House Floor.
PFLAG Talking Points:
- ENDA is about extending to everyone the successful protections that are already extremely effective in many states. 15 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 100 localities already have laws that protect all LGBT workers – covering nearly 40 percent of Americans – from employment discrimination. These advancements have helped to protect workers in many places, but many more remain vulnerable. Passing ENDA would end inconsistencies that vary by geography and ensure that, no matter where an employee works, they enjoy the same protections as all other employees. A strong federal law will provide uniformity of coverage and close the gaps in state and local laws.
- Inclusion of gender identity is essential to the bill. The inclusion of gender identity is vital. First, it is necessary to cover transgender and gender non-conforming people, who are among those Americans most vulnerable to employment discrimination. Second, it is essential to fully protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and even heterosexual people who may not fit traditional gender norms (i.e., a woman who appears “too masculine,” or a man who appears “too feminine”).
- Non-discrimination is a best practice in corporate America. Corporate America generally opposes discrimination and has enacted policies protecting its LGBT employees. In fact, more than 150 Fortune 500 companies have policies that include gender identity/expression. The federal government, unarguably the nation’s largest employer with more than 2 million workers, issued guidelines on how to support transgender employees and those employees in the process of transition. Many companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations have adopted these policies because they are motivated by the bottom line: searching for and training a replacement employee is expensive, as is not hiring the best and most talented person for the job.
- Non-discrimination means increased productivity. Employees who are happy and secure in their jobs – who do not have to spend time hiding who they are for fear of discrimination – perform their jobs better and more quickly compared to those employees who are unhappy. Protections prohibiting employee discrimination reduce the level of anxiety caused by job insecurity. Extending the law to include sexual orientation and gender identity would likely boost the feeling of job security amongst LGBT people, which will in turn boost productivity of these individuals, their work teams, their companies, and collectively, the nation.
- ENDA applies to the same entities covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include private employers with 15 or more employees, federal, state and local governments, labor unions and employment agencies. The Armed Forces, religious institutions and employers with less than 15 employees are exempt from this law.
- As of September 2014, the House version of the bill had 206 cosponsors.
Department of Labor
On July 21, 2014, President Obama signed amendments to Executive Orders 11478 and 11246, which now prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. PFLAG worked in coalition with several other organizations to advocate for the signing of these orders. Additionally, PFLAG continues to advocate for new regulations stating that federal funds given to faith-based social services organizations by the Department of Labor may not be used to discriminate in employment or in the provision of services on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Straight for Equality in the Workplace
Straight for Equality in the Workplace is a competency training program that takes on the issue of workplace fairness for LGBT employees in an accessible, non-political and non-confrontational way. The program leverages PFLAG’s more than 35 years of experience in transforming opinions and attitudes. This program addresses the issue of why culture change is vital for organizations. It also makes the case for why it is critical for organizations to go beyond policies and encourage real participation from all employees to transform corporate culture. The program is unique because it uses real-life stories and examples, courtesy of local PFLAG members, to illustrate the effect workplace culture has on their loved ones — both positive and negative. It identifies the barriers that prevent attitude change, and it provides concrete, straightforward instruction on how to overcome barriers and change the places where we work. Learn more about this program and how to bring it to your workplace.
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