Federal law generally protects workers from workplace discrimination based on a variety of factors. But no federal law explicitly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The sponsors of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act hope to change this reality before this year’s congressional session comes to a close.
The bill advanced in a significant way earlier this month when it was approved by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Given the support that the LGBT community is currently receiving from the wider public and the recent Supreme Court decisions upholding certain marital rights of LGBT couples, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is more likely to pass now than similar measures have been in the past.
Advocates strongly hope that the bill will pass in the Senate. However, the measure faces an uphill battle in the House. Nevertheless, the fact that a bill designed to explicitly eliminate discrimination in employment for the LGBT community is advancing in Congress is a hopeful turn of events.
Until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes, LGBT persons facing discrimination at work will be forced to hold their discriminatory employers accountable under various state laws and broader federal laws. Experienced employment discrimination attorneys can help LGBT workers navigate their legal options under current laws.
However, passage of a federal law explicitly condemning this kind of workplace discrimination is nonetheless necessary in order to send a clear message to employers that such behavior is unacceptable. It will also make it that much easier for LGBT workers to seek justice under the law. Hopefully Congress will pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with due consideration and urgency.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Senate committee passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” Marina Villeneuve, July 10, 2013