ENDA: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill to create a federal law which would prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, defined to include gender expression. It would provide critically-needed protection for people at serious risk of job discrimination. “Fight Workplace Discrimination” is one of the items listed on President Obama’s “Civil Rights Agenda.”
NCLR has long supported passage of a fully inclusive piece of legislation to ensure that the entire LGBT community is protected. Through our legal, advocacy and education work, NCLR also highlights the significant problems that LGBT people can face in this area. For example, our publications emphasize the inadequacy of federal law in addressing these problems. In addition, NCLR assisted in drafting the bill language defining sexual orientation and gender identity.
Because of the importance of passing an ENDA that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity, NCLR serves on the United ENDA steering committee, devoting significant time to ensuring that the LGBT community and our allies have the resources they need to effectively advocate with their senators and representatives on these issues.
The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) had been introduced in Congress since 1994 but excluded gender identity protections until September, 2007, when an inclusive ENDA that included both gender identity and sexual orientation protection was introduced. Members of Congress then stripped ENDA of its gender identity protections and sent the bill to a full floor vote in the House of Representatives. After the bill was stripped of gender identity protections, NCLR joined more than 360 organizations in forming United ENDA, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights groups which lobbied for an inclusive bill. Despite a massive coordinated effort, the bill then went to a full House floor vote and with a vote of 235-184, the United States House of Representatives passed HR 3685, a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that did not include protections based on gender identity. The bill was then introduced in the Senate where it died before going to a vote. President Bush had pledged to veto any version of ENDA.
On June 26, 2008, NCLR'S Legal Director Shannon Price Minter was among those who testified before Congress about the devastating and pervasive problem of gender identity discrimination. The hearing on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Hearing was titled "An Examination of Discrimination Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace." This is the first time that a congressional subcommittee had taken up the specific problem of discrimination against transgender Americans, and it represented a significant step towards a federal solution to this nationwide problem. The hearing took place approximately a month after the creation of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis. 2nd) and Barney Frank (D-Mass. 4th) and founded with a bi-partisan membership. An archived webcast and a full list of witness testimony is available here.
On January 5, 2009, Jaan Williams joined the staff as NCLR’s Field Organizer. Based in NCLR’s Washington D.C. office, Jaan organizes local action teams in key communities to educate members of Congress and their staff about the problem of gender identity and expression discrimination. Jaan works closely with national organizations and grassroots leaders to achieve these goals.
On June 24, 2009, an inclusive bill that responded to NCLR’s call for a unified bill that covered both sexual orientation and gender identity, was reintroduced in the House. The bill was introduced in the House by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and include IIeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Castle (R-DE), George Miller (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).
In the Senate, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D), joined by Senators Susan Collins (ME-R), Olympia Snowe (ME-R), and Edward M. Kennedy (MA-D) introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), S. 1584, on August 5, 2009, in an important show of bipartisan support. This bill, which would extend existing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is much needed and long overdue.
On September 23, 2009, Representative George Miller (D-CA), the committee's chair, began the hearing by saying ENDA would “ensure that employment decisions are based on merit and performance and not prejudice. Fully qualified individuals are being denied employment or are being fired from their jobs for completely non-work-related reasons. This is profoundly unfair and, indeed, un-American. And, it is bad for business.”
On March 30, 2011, Representative Frank announced that we will reintroduce ENDA.
On November 5, 2009, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on ENDA.
On May 18, 2010, as part of a national week of action to pass ENDA, LGBT and civil rights organizations held a press conference to discuss the importance of ENDA. Liz Seaton, NCLR's Director of Projects and Managing Attorney, delivered remarks and urged Congress to pass ENDA.
Currently, twelve states, the District of Columbia, and more than 100 localities have non-discrimination protections that protect all LGBT workers, covering nearly 40 percent of Americans. According to numerous surveys, 60 percent of likely voters in the United States support an inclusive federal employment non-discrimination law. President Obama has identified passing an inclusive ENDA as one of the priorities of his civil rights agenda.
The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill to create a federal law which would prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, defined to include gender expression. It would provide critically-needed protection for people at serious risk of job discrimination. After years of hard work and thousands of conversations with law and policymakers, we are poised to pass an inclusive ENDA in this Congress. In order to achieve that, Representatives and Senators must hear from their constituents that this bill is a high priority for the LGBT community.
Take Action Now!
Email your Senators the message below and ask them to co-sponsor ENDA! Email your Senators now!
Schedule a Visit!
Members of Congress need to hear from you. Schedule a meeting with your Representatives and Senators about the importance of ENDA.
Sample meeting request letters and other talking points and resources are available in the following toolkits: