What is ENDA and how can LGBT employees protect themselves?

Gay marriage supporter Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in anticipation of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the cases against California's gay marriage ban known as Prop 8 and the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), outside the court building in Washington, June 24, 2013. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
ENDA has passed in the Senate, but LGBT supporters and advocates are calling for a vote in the House. Credit: REUTERS

ENDA, or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is a bill that, if passed in the House, could make it so that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can breathe easier on the job. The bill would make discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation illegal — a protection afforded to employees in 16 states and a patchwork of cities nationwide.

The bill protects LGBT people from discrimination in hiring, promotion and termination. Making change happen in cubicles across the country, though, depends on the bill’s passage in the House; it passed in the Senate 64-42 with a level of bipartisan support that Fred Sainz, of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said was heartening.

“Ten Republican senators, including some from the body’s most conservative senators, voted for it. If you are looking for proof that the sands of change are shifting on this, I think the fact that those ten senators voted for it is proof that support for gay issues is changing very, very quickly.”

Sainz and other LGBT rights advocates are applauding the historic nature of the bill in particular because of it’s language protecting employees from discrimination based on gender identity. The dominant rallying cry — on Twitter and beyond — has been to ask Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote in the Republican-led house.

“We believe that it should be a conscience vote, and if he were to allow a vote on it, it would pass,” Sainz says.

How LGBT people can identify and address discrimination in the workplace:

  • Collect evidence of discriminatory conduct and a list of witnesses.
  • Always keep any documents that reflect favorably on your work (including congratulatory emails, etc.) to show your positive work record.
  • Obtain and read your employer’s policies and/or any union contracts that may affect you.
  • Learn what your state and city’s policies are about LGBT people in the workplace.

— Source: Lambda Legal

 


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