Employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers is pervasive and harmful. It violates core American values of fairness and equality by discriminating against qualified individuals based on characteristics unrelated to the job.
Over the years, Congress has responded when it found that people were not being hired or promoted for unfair or arbitrary reasons, such as race, gender, national origin, or disability. When Congress has found such discrimination, it passed laws to restore civil rights by ensuring arbitrary considerations do not determine access to employment. We believe such legislation continues to be an essential part of equal protection under the law.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) offers Congress the opportunity to ensure workplace equality by protecting LGBT workers from employment discrimination. ENDA is pending federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation. The bill protects workers from discriminatory hiring, firing, promotion or compensation practices, as well as retaliation for reporting such practices.
ACLU Submits Evidence to House Committee
On September 23, the ACLU’s LGBT Project submitted a letter to the House Committee on Education and Labor, providing evidence of “scores of instances in which both States and municipalities across the country have engaged in unconstitutional discrimination against their employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Evidence of this kind of discrimination is important to include in the Congressional Record, to ensure that state and local government employees are protected under ENDA.
UPDATE: House Hearing for ENDA
On September 23, the House Education and Labor Committee conducted a hearing on ENDA, which now has the bipartisan support of 178 members of the House of Representatives. At the hearing, it became apparent that momentum is clearly on our side. Acting Head of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Stuart Ishimaru, testified on behalf of the Obama administration and stated that —
It is a privilege to represent the Obama Administration and the EEOC at the first hearing this Congress to consider ENDA, to voice the Administration’s strong support for legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This legislation will provide sorely needed and long overdue federal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, who unfortunately still face widespread employment discrimination.
Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), one of just three openly gay Members of Congress, spoke with pride about how Wisconsin was the first state, in 1982, to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Additionally, in her testimony in support of ENDA, she specifically cited the ACLU’s 2007 report entitled “Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans.”
New Video Shows the Need for a Transgender-Inclusive ENDA
There is no better example of the reason we need a transgender-inclusive ENDA than Diane Schroer, a former Airborne Ranger qualified Special Forces officer. Schroer retired after 25 years of distinguished service in the Army, and began taking steps to transition from male to female shortly thereafter. She was offered a job as a terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress, but the offer was rescinded when she told her future supervisor that she was undergoing gender transition. The ACLU is now representing her in a Title VII sex discrimination lawsuit.
|NEW ACLU REPORT: Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans
This ACLU-issued report urges Congress to pass ENDA, using the stories of workers from across the country who have experienced workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to make the case for passage of the bill.
>> Click here to download a PDF
|Podcast: Why We Need Non-Discrimination Laws, What You Can Do To Help
Listen to LGBT Project Director Matt Coles’s podcast about how you can help end LGBT discrimination on the job.
|Video: Congressional Hearings on ENDA
On September 5, 2007, the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on ENDA. Watch the hearing here, in a series of ten videos.
>> Click here to watch the hearing