UPDATE: ENDA was introduced in the Senate on April 14, 2011.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, was re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by Rep. Barney Frank, D. Mass.
ENDA has been a major priority for the civil and human rights community for nearly two decades. Some version of the legislation has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1994.
“Bias or prejudice should never stand in the way of a person getting or keeping a job. America affirmed this in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, when it guaranteed women, people of color, and religious minorities the right to be hired, paid and promoted according to their merits and not shunned because of who they are,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
In a letter of support for ENDA signed by more than 75 national organizations and sent to Congress, The Leadership Conference said: “Hardworking Americans should not be kept from supporting their families and making a positive contribution to the economic life of our nation because of characteristics that have no bearing whatsoever on their ability to do a job.”
Employment protections for LGBT workers are a patchwork at the state level. Twelve states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another nine states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. Public-sector LGBT workers have some protections in another 14 states.
If passed, ENDA would outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all 50 states and would extend the same federal employment discrimination protections currently given to race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability.