Another significant milestone in the civil rights movement will hopefully soon protect the rights of more American workers who have faced years of bias and discrimination. Barrett & Farahany, LLP, LLP, an employment law firm in Atlanta, joins civil rights and labor attorneys across the country in celebrating the Senate's recent decision to approve legislation outlawing discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the workplace.
On November 7, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed 64-32 in the Senate, becoming the most prominent anti-discrimination bill since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If the bill is approved by the House and signed into law by President Obama, it will be illegal for employers with 15 or more workers to base employment decisions, such as hiring, terminations or promotions, on one's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The legislation faces a battle in the Republican-led House, especially from Speaker John Boehner who continues to stand firm in his opposition to the bill. In a statement to the press, President Obama encouraged the House to act on the legislation, stating that “One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do. Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it.”
Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia, along with numerous cities and municipalities, have laws on the books banning sexual orientation discrimination, but federal law will protect the rights of all employees who work for covered employers, regardless of where they live in the U.S.
Remarked employment attorney Amanda Farahany of Barrett & Farahany, LLP, LLP, “It's a monumental step forward in civil rights. Although the House has already said it will defeat the bill, it shows what can happen when people speak up to make known the will of the public. Congress needs to go farther with amending the civil rights act, and restore the rights to all American workers.”