U.S. Senate Bill Bans Workplace Gender Identity Discrimination

August 27, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A proposed U.S. Senate bill would bar employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

A news release from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) saidthe Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would prohibit employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees from firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against those employed or seeking employment, on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.  Such protections are already in place prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability.

“There is no place in the workplace for employment discrimination,” said Merkley, in the statement.  “No worker in America should be fired or denied a job based on who they are.  Discrimination is wrong, period. “

The bill had 37 Senate co-sponsors including Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) who died this week. It has been endorsed by national civil rights organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the ACLU, labor organizations and more than 50 Fortune 500 companies, according to the news release.

While no existing federal law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, some states have passed measures for that purpose. In addition, a federal district court recently opened the door for transsexuals to pursue federal equal protection claims for discrimination based on sex by associating themselves with the group of individuals diagnosed with the medical condition Gender Identity Disorder or the group that doesn’t conform to sexual stereotypes (see District Court Gives Transsexuals Course for Discrimination Suits ).