At present, employers in 29 states are legally allowed to fire an employee for being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. In 33 states they can fire a transsexual employee based only on gender identity without fear of repercussion. At the same time, 37.7% of ‘out’ LGBT employees report being discriminated against at work, and 9% reported losing a job because of their orientation. Though federal laws forbid workplace discrimination based on race, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability, no such protections exist for LGBT workers nationwide.
The extent of discrimination against LGBT workers was chronicled in A Broken Bargain, a recent report from the Center for American Progress, Human Rights Campaign Fund and Movement Advancement Project. These organizations, along with many others are calling for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA – SB 815).
This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed ENDA out of committee. If it goes on to become law, ENDA will extend to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees the same workplace protections guaranteed to other groups. Specifically, it would forbid discrimination “because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
A story on the blog Policymic titled 5 People Who Were Fired for Being Gay, and the 29 States Where That is Still Legal, profiles a lesbian soccer coach in Tennessee, a management analyst with the Library of Congress, and others who have faced employment discrimination because of their LGBT status.
Many feel the time has come for Congress to pass ENDA, including groups like the Human Rights Campaign Fund that are calling for public action. Without ENDA, LGBT workers around the country will continue to endure workplace discrimination and be excluded from the promise of a free and fair workplace for all Americans.