No End to ENDA?

On June 12, 2012 the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) heard testimony from M. V. Lee Badgett , Research Director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Kylar Broadus , Founder, Trans People of Color Coalition; Samuel Bagenstos , Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School; Ken Charles , Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, General Mills, Inc.; and Craig Parshal , Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters Association regarding  S. 811, the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” (ENDA) which would prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  See here.

It is clear from the testimony that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals is prevalent in this country and in the workforce.  The witnesses presented numerous, startling statistics to support this assertion, including:

  • “The 2008 General Social Survey found that 42% of a national random sample of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people had experienced at least one form of employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation at some point in their lives.”
  • “A national survey of gays and lesbians in 2008 found that “37 percent had experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent had lost a job because of their sexual orientation”;
  • “Depending on the study, gay and bisexual men earn from 10% to 32% less than similarly qualified heterosexual men. Lesbians generally earn the same as or more than heterosexual women, but lesbians earn less than either heterosexual or gay men” 

Clearly, current law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the laws of sixteen states and the District of Columbia are inadequate to protect LGBT individuals.  Thus, Congress should pass ENDA in order to protect these individuals. 

ENDA is not revolutionary – it would do nothing more than extend discrimination protections included in Title VII to sexual orientation and gender identity.