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Fighting for ENDA

Millions of workers all across the country are protected against employment-related discrimination issues by state and federal legislation. In fact, Minnesota employees can be confident that they are protected under the law if they face workplace harassment or other forms of mistreatment on the grounds of their race, religion and/or sex, among other traits. Though, current federal employment law legislation continues to leave an entire demographic of the American workforce vulnerable to prejudicial workplace practices. That is why some LGBT-rights groups, employee advocates and progressive representatives are promoting the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) through congress.

According to the Center for American Progress, most voters assume that their gender identity and sexual orientation are legally protected traits that cannot be subjected to employer discrimination, much like their gender is. However, these traits are not recognized as protected classes under federal law, even though one recent study suggests the majority of Americans support such measures.

Only 34 states have anti-discrimination policies for transgender employees, and only 29 states protect gay workers. These facts may coincide with studies noting that incidents of workplace harassment and discrimination were claimed by over 40 percent of gay participants.

ENDA is being introduced to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for voting, and faces strong support and criticism on both fronts. Some conservative representatives oppose the bill on personal principle, while others erroneously find it redundant. The exact timeline for learning the fate of ENDA is unclear.

If passed, ENDA will offer the same legal protections to gay and transgender employees that millions of others have. It will also encourage states to adopt the same policies as the federal government.  

Source: MSNBC, “The fight for ENDA: Think you can’t be fired for being gay? Think again,” Emma Margolin, April 25, 2013

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