The Big LGBT Q at Work [US]



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Gay and trans employees still don’t have legal protection in the workplace, though there was a glimmer of hope this week after the US Senate voted to move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) forward to a House of Representatives vote to determine if it will become a law. If passed, ENDA would come afer 20 years of work to outlaw sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in all US states. In contrast to support for ENDA’s advancement from President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has vowed to not bring ENDA up for a House vote. In this case, ENDA would be…ended. Again.

An aide to Boehner has cited the potential for frivolous lawsuits as the ground for opposition, a stated reasoning shared by both business and faith interest groups. Bill opponents have also argued that existing state and federal legislation already covers ENDA’s concerns.

If House Republicans are losing sleep over an imagined deluge of discrimination claims, it will be in spite of empirical evidence. This year, the Government Accountability Office reported there were   “relatively few” employment discrimination claims filed over the past five years in the 22 states that legally protect sexual orientation, and 18 states from those that also protect gender identity. At the moment, the only federal protection that could be seen as approaching ENDA’s concern is a tenuous link between transgendered employees and the sex discrimination of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the US legislative process, check out Outside the Beltway’s handy flowchart.

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