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Frequently Asked Questions about ENDA

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What is ENDA?

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill introduced in congress would extend the current non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, making it illegal to refuse to hire or promote, fire, or harass an employee based on these qualities. The current version of the law outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, religion, sex, and national origin.

What are the benefits of ENDA?

ENDA ensures that people are judged on the quality of their work, not on the basis of personal characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity. The act allows employees to be honest about themselves while at work, which would lead to increased job productivity and satisfaction.

Who does ENDA apply to?

ENDA would apply to employers with over fifteen employees, as well as federal, state, and local government employers.

Are there exceptions?

ENDA contains an explicit exemption that makes clear it does not apply to a broad range of religious organizations, including churches, synagogues, and other places of worship, religious schools, colleges, seminaries or universities, as well as other religious corporations, associations, or societies, including religious hospitals, religious social services agencies, gyms and community centers run by religious groups or with religious missions, religious retirement homes, and religious newspapers and publishers.

How will ENDA be enforced?

ENDA would be enforced similar to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Department of Justice would be in charge of enforcing ENDA in state and local governments, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would enforce ENDA for private employment.

What is the current status of ENDA?

ENDA was passed by the US Senate on a bipartisan basis on November 7, 2013 by a vote of 64-32. It will now go to the House of Representatives. Speaker of the House John Boehner has stated his opposition to the bill, but there is significant pressure to bring the bill to a vote on the House floor.

ENDA is supported by a vast majority of Americans. Over 70% of Americans support federal workplace protections for LGBT people. Additionally, a majority of Americans in every state in the country support employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Source: Columbia University, as reported in The Washington Post.

Prominent supporters of ENDA include Prop 8 attorney Ted Olson, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and President Barack Obama

Telling the truth about ENDA

There is a lot of misinformation on ENDA, which is being spread by anti-LGBT activists. The media needs to be aware of what the facts are when presented false claims.

ENDA provides equal treatment to all employees

ENDA explicitly prohibits quotas or preferential treatment for LGBT employees. It explicitly disallows lawsuits based on conduct that happened before the bill was passed, and it prohibits suits based on neutral policies that may have a “disparate impact” on gay or transgender employees. 

ENDA follows the best practices of the business community

As of April 2013, 88% of Fortune 500 companies have implemented policies prohibiting discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in their workplaces, and 57% also protect transgender employees. Leaders in the business community see these policies as a key component of their financial success.

ENDA includes broad and explicit exemptions for religious organizations

ENDA only extends basic workplace nondiscrimination protections to LGBT employees at non-religious organizations. In fact, there is an explicit exemption that states that a religious organization can hire or fire an LGBT employee (in Section 6). Federal protections for religious institutions are still in place—ENDA does not erase previous rulings on freedom from religious discrimination.

ENDA will decrease discrimination against transgender workers

Data gathered shows that transgender individuals are the victims rather than perpetrators of sexual violence, physical violence, and other forms of discrimination. ENDA would help decrease discrimination cases against transgender employees by providing federal employment protections. Many anti-LGBT activists will trumpet "bathroom fears," but such claims do not hold water. 

ENDA allows offices to set work-appropriate dress codes

Nothing will prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to wear a certain type of dress not prohibited by other Federal, State, or local laws. If an employee has undergone transition prior to employment, or during employment, they will be allowed to follow the same grooming rules as the sex to which the employee is transitioning or has transitioned to.

Employment discrimination is an important issue affecting thousands of people in America

Despite the fact that workplace culture has come a long way, there is still discrimination in the workplace. Research shows that employment discrimination against LGBT people occurs. Federal, state, and local courts, legislative bodies, and administrative agencies have expressed that LGBT people have experienced widespread discrimination in employment.