Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

February 9, 2009

Background
The pursuit of justice has not always been easy or popular, but AFGE stands true to a basic tenet of fairness: an employee or job applicant should be judged by his or her ability to perform the job.  In this light, AFGE strongly opposes employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Right now, it is not a statutory civil rights violation to fire a hard-working, dedicated federal employee simply because that worker is not heterosexual – and that is wrong.  Although this protection has been applied administratively to federal employees for three decades, the most recent Special Counsel systematically denied federal workers a process to remedy discrimination based on sexual orientation demonstrating the need for statutory protections.  On November 7, 2007, by a vote of 235-184, the House passed ENDA, marking the first time Congress has approved employment protections based on sexual orientation. The bill extended federal employment discrimination protections currently provided on race, religion, sex national origin, age and disability to sexual orientation for both public and private workers.  AFGE supports ENDA as well as legislation extending benefits to domestic partners of federal employees.
ENDA Provides Basic Legal Protections

  • Extends federal employment discrimination protections currently based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability to sexual orientation. ENDA extends fair employment practices and does not convey special rights.
  • Prohibits public and private employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an individual’s sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions.
  • Provides for the same process as permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act but has limited remedies. Remedies that are available for cases of statistically disparate impact (affirmative action, quotas or the prohibitions of policy or practice) are permissible under ENDA.

What ENDA Does Not Do:

  • Does not cover most religious organizations and employers with 15 or fewer employees.
  • Does not apply to the uniformed members of the armed forces and does not affect current law on lesbians and gays in the military.
  • Does not require an employer to provide benefits for the same-sex partner of an employee.
  • Does not allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect statistics on sexual orientation.

Conclusion
AFGE strongly urges the Senate to pass ENDA and the President to sign the legislation into law.

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