Level the playing field: Pass ENDA now!

The Task Force Action Fund submitted testimony for today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), federal legislation to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently there are no clear federal employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and no such protections exist in over half the states.

Task Force testimony underscores the critical need to pass ENDA. It includes personal stories of workplace discrimination against LGBT people and statistics on the prevalence of such discrimination. Read the full testimony here.

The Task Force has long advocated for ENDA. This includes coordinating a Lobby Day where hundreds of LGBT rights supporters converged on U.S. Senate offices to push for the measure’s passage; and most recently, mobilizing supporters to urge for a committee vote. You can sign the petition here.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey says:

Too many of us still head to work each day terrified it may be our last, simply because of who we are or who we love. The stories are painful, and the statistics are startling. But this is the reality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all across America. To be open and honest about who we are, about our families, often means taking a huge risk in the workplace. Something as simple as sharing with a co-worker what you and your spouse did over the weekend could place your livelihood in peril.

America prides itself on giving everyone a fair shake and allowing them to fully and freely contribute their skills and talents. ENDA reflects these core values. It is why the public overwhelmingly supports job protections for qualified and competent LGBT workers. Many people think these protections already exist, but that’s not the case. There is no clear federal law, and there are no such laws in over half the states. This jeopardizes our ability to have or keep employment, housing and feed our families. ENDA will level the playing field once and for all.

Injustice at Every Turn shows transgender people at particular risk

The Task Force’s testimony includes alarming findings from our groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

It found that employment discrimination against transgender people is a nearly universal experience: 26 percent report losing a job simply because they are transgender, and 78 percent report mistreatment or discrimination at the workplace, forcing many to hide who they are to avoid workplace abuse and to keep their jobs.

In addition, survey respondents experienced other hardships stemming from the challenges related to employment. Almost one-fifth reported becoming homeless because of being transgender, and respondents had less access to employer-provided health insurance coverage compared to the population at large.

Widespread LGBT job discrimination

A 2007 meta-analysis from the Williams Institute of 50 studies of LGBT job discrimination found consistent evidence of bias in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination, and up to 17 percent said they had been fired or denied employment.

“The bottom line: The state of the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — transgender Americans in particular — is absolutely shameful,” says Carey. “We need ENDA now.”