More good news this week: Senate ENDA hearing announced

In what’s shaping up to be a big week for LGBT people and their families, we  heard today that the U.S. Senate is going to take up employment protections in a hearing on June 12.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, scheduled a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which if passed and signed into law would make it illegal under federal law to discrimination against employees on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation – effectively protecting the LGBT people in employment settings.

The announcement for ENDA’s hearing, which has bipartisan support, comes two weeks after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a decision that federal law against sex discrimination includes protections for transgender people based on gender identity. While the historic EEOC decision helps protect transgender people, a federal law explicitly covering LGBT people is still necessary in order to ensure adequate protections in the workplace.

LGBT people face discrimination on the job. We’re still fired, denied promotions and harassed, just for being who we are. Most don’t know that over half (51 percent) of LGBT people hide who they are at work to most or all of their co-workers.

Discrimination against transgender people has also been well documented, most recently by our National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Seventy-eight percent experienced mistreatment, harassment, or discrimination at work, with one in four (26 percent) losing their job because they were transgender.

The Task Force has long advocated for the passage of ENDA and in January coordinated a Lobby Day where hundreds of LGBT activists met with U.S. Senate offices urging for the passage of ENDA. We applaud Senator Harkin for scheduling a hearing on ENDA and urge the committee to pass this vital legislation.