ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has lived in Congress in one form or another since 1974, was again supposed to be reintroduced in Congress today by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), but Franks’ spokesperson, Harry Gural, reported moments ago that Frank is awaiting more cosponsors before he officially reintroduces it. In the last Congress, ENDA had 203 cosponsors in the House, and 45 in the Senate.
Critics and proponents believe it has little chance of passing, given the current composition of Congress. ENDA itself has been introduced into every Congress but one since 1994.
Michael K. Lavers at Edge reports, “Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-Fla.], gay Congressmen David Cicilline [D-R.I.] and Jared Polis [D-Colo.] and lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin [D-Wis.] are among the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act’s more than two dozen co-sponsors. Frank conceded it is highly unlikely that the GOP-controlled House will pass ENDA during this Congress, but he stressed to activists who attended the Capitol Hill announcement that they need to begin to lay the groundwork for ENDA’s eventual passage–which he predicted would happen sometime over the next four to six years–now.
“The essential part of it is that people do the lobbying now,” said Frank.”
The Need For ENDA
It’s impossible to gather statistics for something as intangible as the number of people fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, in part because most people who are fired for being LGBTQ aren’t told that’s the reason, and in part because it’s easy to couch something like that in other reasons. But studies show that anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace is extreme.
Here are just a few statistics:
- 47% of people who are transgender report workplace harassment.
- Only 12 states and Washington, D.C. prohibit employment discrimination based on both gender identity and sexual orientation. So, in 38 states you can be fired for gender identity or gender expression, including for being transgender.
- In 29 states you can be fired for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
- Gay men earn 10% to 32% less than similarly qualified heterosexual men. (Williams Institute)
- Transgender people report high rates of unemployment and very low earnings. (Williams Institute)
HRC, the Human Rights Campaign, in its 2009 “Degrees of Equality” study reports, “significant numbers of LGBT employees continue to experience a negative workplace climate that appears to be unaffected by organizational policies and which varies by location, manager and work team. The majority of LGBT workers (51 percent) hide their LGBT identity to most at work, the simplest indication that more work needs to be done to translate inclusive policies into an inclusive climate. Hiding one’s LGBT identity is even more pronounced among younger workers. Only 5 percent of LGBT employees ages 18 to 24 say they are totally open at work, compared to more than 20 percent in older age cohorts.
“Employees who are not open at work experience more negative outcomes from their workplace environment that affect productivity, retention and professional relationships. For example, 54 percent of LGBT employees who are not open to anyone at work report lying about their personal lives, compared to 21 percent of employees open about their LGBT identity. LGBT workers’ inability to participate honestly in everyday conversations hinders trust and cohesion with their co-workers and superiors.
“An employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity are often unavoidable in casual, non-work-related conversations among co-workers. A total of 89 percent of LGBT employees say conversations about social lives come up at least once a week; 80 percent confront conversations involving spouses, relationships and dating at least once per week; and, 50 percent say the topic of sex arises at least once a week. These frequent conversations are the most likely to make LGBT employees feel uncomfortable: Fewer than half feel very comfortable talking about any of these topics.
“Derogatory comments and jokes still happen at work and are a major indicator that it is unsafe to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity at work. A total of 58 percent of LGBT workers say someone at work makes a joke or derogatory comment about LGBT people at least once in a while. Similarly, jokes and derogatory comments about other minority groups are equally indicative of a negative climate. About two-thirds (62 percent) of LGBT employees say negative comments about minority groups are made at least once in a while at work.”
Then there’s this startling news from The Williams Institute’s 2007 “Bias In The Workplace” study:
“Studies conducted from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s revealed that 16% to 68% of LGB respondents reported experiencing employment discrimination at some point in their lives. Since the mid-1990s, an additional fifteen studies found that 15% to 43% of LGB respondents experienced discrimination in the workplace.
“When asked more specific questions about the type of discrimination experienced, LGB respondents reported the following experiences that were related to their sexual orientation: 8%- 17% were fired or denied employment, 10%-28% were denied a promotion or given negative 10 performance evaluations, 7%-41% were 5 verbally/physically abused or had their workplace 0 vandalized, and 10%-19% reported receiving unequal pay or benefits.
“When transgender individuals were surveyed separately, they reported similar or higher levels of employment discrimination. In six studies conducted between 1996 and 2006, 20% to 57% of transgender respondents reported having experienced employment discrimination at some point in their life. More specifically, 13%- 56% were fired, 13%-47% were denied employment, 22%-31% were harassed, and 19% were denied a promotion based on their gender identity.
“When surveyed, many heterosexual co-workers report witnessing sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.
“A small number of researchers have also asked heterosexuals whether they have witnessed discrimination against their LGB peers. These studies revealed that 12% to 30% of respondents in certain occupations, such as the legal profession, have witnessed antigay discrimination in employment.
“In states that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, LGB people file complaints of employment discrimination at similar rates to women and racial minorities.”
So why has this bill, introduced now nine times, not to mention in another form, to be added into the civil rights act of 1964, never passed?
Here’s the ENDA introduced in 2009. The one Frank was to introduce today is the exact same one, transgender-inclusive.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.