Federal Government Might Be Catching Up to California In Protecting Against LGBT Employment Discrimination

November 5, 2013, by Matthew C. Lewis

In a procedural vote, the U.S. Senate has advanced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to a full floor vote, which is expected to take place in the coming days. The Act would prohibit all employers (including public agencies) from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis for employment decisions.  Federal law already prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age and disability. The bill is far from certain to become law, as the Republican majority in the House continues to be skeptical about the bill, concerned it will spur unnecessary litigation and result in costs for small businesses.

The potential passage of ENDA would have little effect in California, as state law already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (under the Fair Employment and Housing Act).  But the simple fact that the bill has advanced this far in the Senate is an important marker of progress on a national level towards increased protections for LGBT individuals (particularly as Congress has not passed any major gay rights legislation since 2010, when it ended “don’t ask, don’t tell”). Check back for updates as ENDA continues to move through Congress.

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