In a move to further protect worker’s rights, the U.S. Senate voted to move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the House for a final vote.  The ENDA was authored by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, which will prohibit certain entities, including businesses with 15 or more employees, from discriminating against individuals on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

The specific focus of ENDA will make it unlawful for employers to:

  • Fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation or other privileges because of an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Limit, segregate, or classify the employee or applicant for employment in any way that would deprive an individual of employment or status of employment due to the individuals actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity

Gender identity is defined in the bill as gender related identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the person’s sex at birth.  This bill also included anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation provisions governing employment agencies and labor organizations, and also protects discrimination against employees based on their association with persons on account of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

This law creates a yet another safe guard against discrimination in the work place.  The bill does not stipulate that employers must give preferential treatment or maintain quotas based on sexual orientation, but rather works to create a fair and balanced workplace for all.

In the realm of hiring, the bill helps to create a balanced opportunity for individuals with regards to applying for positions.  Other things such as “Ban the Box” and the EEOC’s guidance on the use of criminal background checks have also worked to level the playing field for applicants looking to seek gainful employment. 

For more information on the specific progress of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, click here

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