ENDA Moves Closer To Becoming A Reality

The Senate has taken an initial step to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA seeks to prohibit an employer from refusing to hire, fire, or take any other adverse action against a worker based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar restrictions also would extend to employment agencies and labor organizations.

Such a law is necessary. Although some state and local governments have enacted laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from discrimination, “a patchwork of state laws that excludes tens of millions of Americans from basic protection against discrimination is simply not good enough,” stated Senator Reid. “As long as hardworking, qualified Americans can be denied job opportunities, fired or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, all workers are at risk.” ENDA, Reid said, “would simply afford all Americans the same protections from discrimination based on prejudice.”

If you have questions about gender discrimination or any other form of employment discrimination, it is important to consult with an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination attorney right away.

Sen. Tom Harkin describes the bill as “very simple and very clear…It states that private businesses, public employers and labor unions cannot make employment decisions-hiring, firing, promotion or compensation-because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” The bill also contains exemptions for small businesses and religious organizations, and current rules applicable to the armed forces are not affected.

President Barack Obama also has expressed support for ENDA and “urges swift passage” of the bill. “Workers should not fear being fired from their jobs, harassed at their workplaces, or otherwise denied the chance to earn a living for themselves and their families, simply because of sexual orientation or gender identity,” he stated. “This legislation would, for the first time in this Nation’s history, make explicit in Federal law such guarantees, which are consistent with America’s core values of fairness and equality. Passage of this bill is long overdue.”

The most recent version of ENDA includes a variety of changes, including authorizing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) to investigate claims of workplace sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Further, where bias or discrimination is found, a worker may be able to file a civil lawsuit and obtain the same damages and remedies as in other employment discrimination matters based on Title VII.

For more information or if you believe you have been subjected to any form of employment discrimination please contact the top Georgia anti-discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.