The House Education and Labor Committee chaired on September 23 the first full committee hearing in the House of Representatives on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). If passed, ENDA would be the first inclusive piece of legislation to prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees.
In 29 states across the country, it is still legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states, it is still legal to fire someone for being transgender. ENDA is the first legislation that seeks to include discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity on the list of employment prejudice the state addresses. As it stands today, federal law protects against employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) first introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 24 of this year, and a similar bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on August 5.
“Our jobs enable us to support our families, develop our talents, contribute to our communities and our country, and realize our dreams. But for far too many hardworking LGBT people, those pressures are intensified by the fear that they can be denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise be discriminated against just because of who they are,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in written testimony for the hearing.