The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been passed in the Senate, but still awaits approval from the House of Representatives. This bill, known as ENDA, secures non-discrimination employment rights for the LGBT population, who were not previously protected under other laws. This means that no one may be fired or discriminated against in the workplace for their sexual orientation or gender identification.
In New Jersey, employees have been protected by the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) for years. New Jersey State’s law already protects against discrimination for sexual orientation as well as a multitude of other classes like gender discrimination (protecting women from sexual harassment, etc.), racial discrimination, and age discrimination. With this new law on the horizon at the federal level, it will pass down protection for the LGBT community throughout all fifty states.
Employers will not be permitted to hire, promote or fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identification if this law passes in the House of Representatives. The bill specifically applies to only businesses with 15 employees or more, and has an attached amendment that protects religious organizations from any retaliation from the government in the form of withholding contracts, tax exemptions or grants.
While the bill has passed in the Senate by a 64-32 vote in favor of passing ENDA, it remains to be seen if it has the strength and support to pass in the House of Representatives. The bill needs 218 votes to pass in the House of Representatives, but the bill is not yet scheduled for a vote. House Speaker, John Boehner has come out saying he is opposed to the bill and is not likely to bring it up for a vote. However, ENDA does have 194 co-sponsors so far, including five Republicans. In 2007, the House did pass a similar bill to ENDA, but that legislation did not protect transgender workers like the current bill does.
New Jersey is one of 21 states that already protect workers of the LGBT community with its Human Rights Law, but this bill, if it passes, would extend to the other 29 states that do not have any such legislative protection for the gay community.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, contact our New Jersey employment lawyers today.