Center for American Progress

We Need to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
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We Need to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Passage of federal legislation such as ENDA is the only way to ensure employment discrimination protections are extended across all states and to all workers.

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The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, would make it illegal under federal law to discriminate in any aspect of employment based on someone’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. It also protects workers from discrimination because of associating with other workers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and protects all workers from retaliation if they complain about sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.

These protections would extend to all federal, state, and local government agencies; employment agencies; unions; and private employers with 15 or more employees. ENDA includes explicit exemptions for religious organizations and religiously affiliated entities, including all houses of worship, missions, or schools that have the purpose of religious worship or teaching religious doctrines.

A patchwork of state and local laws currently provide gay and transgender workers some protections from employment discrimination. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 15 of those states also prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity. But that means it remains legal in 29 states to fire employees because they are gay, and in 35 states because they are transgender.

Passage of federal legislation, such as ENDA, is the only way to ensure these protections are extended across all states and to all workers.

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