Feb 10, 2014
The Senate recently passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employers from firing, refusing to hire, providing unequal pay to, or otherwise discriminating against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, MSNBC reported. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) noted the importance of the bill’s passage in the country’s progression towards equality: “Today is an historic day. In 1964, we passed the Civil Rights Act – none of us were here then of course. And then in 1990, we passed the Americans with Disabilities Act – some of us were here for that. And now we sort of finished that trilogy.”
A Gallup poll showed that the Senate vote of 64 to 32 (or 67 to 33 percent) is a fairly accurate representation of American voters’ opinions. When asked whether or not they would vote for a bill that would “make it illegal to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” 63 percent of those surveyed said yes, and 31 percent said no (6 percent chose “No Opinion”).
Despite Senate and public support for ENDA, Reuters stated, the legislation will likely die in the House, as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) opposes it and has no intention of bringing it to a vote. He claims that if passed, ENDA would lead to pointless lawsuits that would cost jobs.
The Center for American Progress (CAP), however, cites data revealing the problems correlated with the lack of protective legislation. LGBT families currently report lower annual earnings and higher poverty rates than non-LGBT families. Additionally, discrimination can cause LGBT workers to lose their jobs or get passed over for one. Resulting unemployment can leave individuals unable to support themselves and their families. Discrimination can hurt businesses, too, as it can prevent employers from hiring the best individuals for the job and can lower employee productivity and performance. Career information and news sites can provide updates on region-specific policies as they continue to evolve.
While ENDA would help protect LGBT workers, it would not give them special treatment. In fact, the bill prevents most employers from doing just that and from establishing employment quotas based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Religious organizations, which are vaguely defined in the legislation, are exempt from ENDA.
The infographic below dives further into ENDA and the status quo of LGBT discrimination in the workplace. Please consult the visual for a full list of sources.
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