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The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Bill Number: Introduced in the House as H.R. 3017 by Representative Barney Frank, D (MA-4) on June 24, 2009 and introducted in the Senate as S. 1584 by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on August 5, 2009.

What this Bill Will Do: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, in 30 states, an employer may legally fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states an employer may legally fire someone because of their gender identity or gender expression.

What we Expect from our Senators and House Members: PFLAG urges our congressional representatives to support a gender identity-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide employment protections for all LGBT Americans. We encourage you to reach out to both your House and Senate representatives and urge them to cosponsor this bill once it is introduced.

PFLAG Talking Points:

ENDA is about extending to everyone the successful protections that have worked well in many states. Already, 12 states, the District of Columbia and more than 100 localities have non-discrimination protections 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 unprotected. 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 law.

Inclusion of gender identity is essential to the bill. The inclusion of gender identity is vital. First, it is necessary to cover transgender people, who are among the most discriminated-against Americans. Sec­ond, it is essential to fully protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and even heterosexual people who may not fit traditional gender norms. The LGBT community is speaking in one voice: we must move forward with employment protections together.

Nondiscrimination 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. Companies 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 experienced person for the job.

Non-discrimination means increased productivity. Employees who are happy and secure in their jobs, and 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.

Important Notes:

  • The bill will likely be referred to the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

  • Hearings in both the House and Senate are expected in 2009.

Understanding the Issue:

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