The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate is gearing up for a vote on a bill that would ban workplace discrimination of gays, transvestites, and others with a sexual identity claim. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced October 28 that he would bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the floor of the Senate for a vote in the next few weeks.
In 2007, a Democrat-controlled House passed a version of the bill, albeit one that didn't include special status for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered (LGBT) persons. The newly introduced ENDA measure would make it a federal offense for an employer to consider an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring or firing decisions. Thus far, federal workplace discrimination laws apply only to age, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and disability.
The text of the bill explains that its purpose is to “address the history and persistent, widespread pattern of discrimination, including unconstitutional discrimination, on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity by private sector employers and local, state, and federal government employers.” The bill specifies that it would be “an unlawful employment practice for an employer to … refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Employers would also be prohibited from trying to “limit, segregate, or classify the employees or applicants for employment of the employer in any way that would deprive … any individual of employment or otherwise adversely affect the status of the individual as an employee, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
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