In a victory for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) workers, the U.S. Senate approved a bill on Thursday which would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) would prohibit employers from firing, discriminating against, or refusing to hire employees or job applicants on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ENDA defines “gender identity” as “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”
The ENDA would fill a gap left by other federal employment discrimination laws such as Title VII, which protect employees from discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and religion, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act already protects employees from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Sixteen other states along with the District of Columbia also provide similar protections at the state level. An additional four states protect workers based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity. The federal ENDA would ensure that all employees are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of state law.
Before the ENDA becomes law, the next step is a vote before the U.S. House of Representatives.