House Committee OKs Bar against Workplace Sexual Orientation Discrimination

October 19, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - A U.S. House panel has approved a measure that prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

A Business Insurance news report said the vote in the House Education and Labor Committee on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was 27-21.

The bill prohibits employers, employment agencies, and labor unions from using an individual’s sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions, including hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation.

The bill was opposed by some who would otherwise have been expected to support it because it excludes transgender workers from those protected from discrimination, the news report said. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said in a statement that he voted against the bill because of the transgender exclusion.

“I understand the disappointment that this legislation does not include protections for workers on the basis of gender identity,” Committee Chairman Representative George Miller (D-California) said in a statement. “I believe that the step we are taking today will lay the foundation for passing these additional protections in the future, and I urge proponents of gender identity protections to keep up the fight.”

During the committee’s discussion on the measure,   Senior Republican Member Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-California) raised questions about   the provision of the bill prohibiting employment discrimination because of an individual’s “perceived” sexual orientation. 

“This vague term is not defined anywhere in this bill, increases employer liability and will needlessly require litigation on the meaning of this term and how it applies to the workplace,” McKeon said in a statement (See Questions Raised in U.S. House Committee Discrimination Bill Hearing ).