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Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

Deborah J. Vagins,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
Ian S. Thompson,
Senior Legislative Advocate,
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February 6, 2014

The following was originally published on

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama promised to make 2014 a "year of action." The Obama's words offer reason for optimism, and he touched on a number of important civil liberties and civil rights issues in his address, including the economic security of families and pay equity for women.

Obama said he would continue to work with Congress, but, if necessary, take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, which is exactly what he needs to do right now to help stop employment discrimination in the workforce.

The country needs to do away with workplace policies that belong in episodes of "Mad Men," as Obama said last week. In Congress, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and Paycheck Fairness Act would transform the national landscape regarding employment discrimination against LGBT and female workers.

Obama has been a leader on pay equity issues and an outspoken supporter of ENDA and the Paycheck Fairness Act, and American workers are very much looking forward to the day when these commonsense and overdue measures are finally signed into law. By acting today, however, Obama could strike a blow against workplace discrimination, as well as provide momentum for further action in Congress.

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