Employment Non Discrimination Act

What is ENDA?

  • ENDA Defined: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a federal bill that would prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee simply based on that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

  • Model Legislation with Exemptions: ENDA models existing federal civil rights legislation, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ENDA would cover private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as federal, state, and local governments, unions, and employment agencies. The U.S. military and certain religious organizations would be exempt. Quotas, disparate impact claims, and domestic partner benefits would not be permitted.

  • Terms Defined: Sexual orientation is “homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.”  Gender identity is the “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

ENDA and Religious Exemptions

The version of ENDA in the current congress (2013-2014) includes a broad religious exemption for employers that untenably places LGBTQ workers and their families at risk. While Family Equality Council continues to support and strongly advocate for federal employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, we do not support ENDA in its current form with its current religious exemption, which provides a broader exemption than any other piece of civil rights legislation effecting employment. We look forward to working with legislators, our advocacy partners, and our members to advocate for employment protections that ensure all families and workers cannot be fired, fail to be hired, or passed over for a promotion based on who they are or who they love.

Why is ENDA Necessary?

  • At-Risk Population: The U.S. workforce contains approximately 5.4 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) workers.  LGBTQ people face high risks of job discrimination with no adequate remedy under federal law. The LGBT community is already at higher risk for poverty than the non-LGBT community.

  • Discrimination LegalOnly 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another five have laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation only. This patchwork of laws is inadequate to prevent and remedy the serious discrimination against LGBT employees that takes place across the county.

  • Zero Federal Protection: There is no federal law that expressly protects people from job discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

How does ENDA impact families?

  • Parents and Children: 3 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) Americans have had a child and as many as 6 million American children and adults have an LGBT parent. Many LGBT families live in Southern and Midwestern states, where they have limited or no protections from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  4.3 million LGBT Americans live in states with no state laws providing protection based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression.

  • Economic Stability: At the foundation of every happy, healthy family is economic security – the ability to earn a living and the economic stability to provide for a dependent partner and children. ENDA ensures that families can continue to provide for each other without fear of discrimination. 

  • Symbolic Value: Children of parents who are LGBT should not grow up feeling that their country does not value the economic stability and success of their parents and their families. America has a long tradition of valuing and protecting individuals and families for the contributions they make to the workforce, through such laws as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Who supports ENDA?

  • Best Business Practice: Many of America’s top businesses understand that an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity has nothing to do with his or her job performance. 88% of Fortune 500 companies include employment protections for their LGBT employees.  Of small businesses, 62% already have policies against gender identity discrimination and 69% already have policies against sexual orientation discrimination. 

  • State/Local Government Leadership: Federal law has been outpaced by the actions of state and local leaders. More than 40% of the country - including 16 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 100 cities and counties - has passed workplace protections for the LGBT community.

  • Public Opinion Polls: Recent national surveys show that 73% of Americans believe it should be illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment.  Unfortunately, 87% of Americans believe that federal protections against LGBT discrimination in the workplace already exist and that it is already illegal to fire an employee simply for being LGBT.

For more information contact:
Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy at emily.hecht@familyequality.org

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Employment Non-Discrimination Laws