WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign hailed this week’s anticipated bipartisan reintroduction of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would create federal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is a critical piece of an economic empowerment agenda for the LGBT community, as detailed in a new memo released by HRC.
“All Americans worry about their economic future, but LGBT Americans’ anxieties are exacerbated when they can be fired for no other reason than their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Passing ENDA is a key element of making sure all Americans can get back to work and get our country moving again.”
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. Currently such protections exist in 21 states and DC for sexual orientation and 12 states and DC for gender identity.
“ENDA reflects our shared value that what matters in the workplace is how you do your job, not who you are,” said Solmonese. “While debate remains about how to best solve our country’s economic woes, varied interests from large corporations to organized labor agree that ENDA is critical to our economy.”
Among Fortune 500 companies, 87 percent have sexual orientation non-discrimination policies and 46 percent have gender identity non-discrimination policies. Additionally, more than 85 companies have joined the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading U.S. employers that support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
HRC’s new memo, “Federal LGBT Legislation: An Economic Empowerment Agenda,” details a number of legislative proposals to put LGBT Americans on the same footing as everyone else. In addition to ENDA, a number of bills aim to extend benefits to families currently disadvantaged because their relationships are not recognized. These include the Respect for Marriage Act, the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, the Uniting American Families Act, the Equal Access to COBRA Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act.
The memo also details efforts to ensure that schools are safe for all students to be prepared to contribute to our economy. In the 112th Congress there are two legislative solutions (the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act), as well as administrative actions, that can address the problem of bullying, harassment and discrimination against LGBT students.