Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

What Is ENDA?

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA creates what no other law currently does: express protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the workplace. It is similar to protections under existing federal discrimination laws that protect other classes of workers on the bases of sex, religion, race, and ethnicity.

Despite the highest levels of public support for protecting LGBT people in the workplace fewer than half of state governments protect LGBT workers, which is why we need clear federal protections for workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But Aren’t There Already Federal Protections for LGBT People?

In April 2012 the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a precedent-setting case, Macy v. Holder, that interpreted existing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex to also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping (believing a man must be masculine and a woman feminine, for example). However, the ruling could be reversed by the Supreme Court or the EEOC itself. Legislation like ENDA is a more permanent solution to protecting LGBT workers.

ENDA's History

ENDA was first introduced in Congress in 1994. However, different versions of employment protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people had been around since the early 1970’s. At the time ENDA was first introduced it included only protections for LGB people. In 2007 gender identity protections were added to ENDA for the first time. At the time there was concern from some advocates and legislators that the gender identity provisions would prevent passage of the bill. While the gender identity provisions were dropped, with significant controversy in the community, ENDA still died in the Senate and did not become law.

An inclusive ENDA was reintroduced after the 2008 elections by Rep. Barney Frank. While we garnered tremendous momentum in 2009, the year ended without passing ENDA and securing workplace protections for LGBT people(although the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act was passed and signed into law that year).

On November 5, 2009, the Task Force submitted testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s hearing on ENDA, on the heels of the testimony submitted September 23 to the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor In December 2009, the House Committee on Education and Labor postponed a mark-up of ENDA. Several organizations, including the Task Force, issued a joint statement to express outrage over the postponement and urged Congress to continue moving forward with ENDA after the stall. The bill was again reintroduced in 2011 by Senator Merkley (OR).

If you'd like to read a more detailed history of ENDA and other employment protection legislation check out the full story by clicking "History of Nondiscrimination Legislation" link in the sidebar at the left side of this page.

Moving Forward...

The Task Force continues to fight for an inclusive ENDA to provide clear employment protections for LGBT workers under federal law. In January 2012 the Task Force brought in 300 citizen lobbyists to urge their Senators to support and take action on ENDA as quickly as possible. The Senate scheduled a hearing on ENDA in June 2012, and we submitted testimony.

The Task Force testimony underscored the critical need to pass ENDA and the particular impact employment discrimination has on transgender people. It includes personal stories of workplace discrimination against LGBT people and statistics on the prevalence of such discrimination from our groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

A 2007 analysis from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found consistent evidence of bias against LGBT people in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people experienced employment discrimination and up to 17 percent had been fired or denied employment.

If you haven’t already taken action to support ENDA, sign our petition and contact your elected officials.