Currently, there is no federal law protecting LGBT working professionals in the workforce.
In 2013, the Senate held a vote hearing on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA)—a bill that would specifically prevent discrimination against workers based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Since 1994, the ENDA has been introduced to Congress on several occasions, but has never officially been passed as a law.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) again took a stab at starting the conversation in 2007 by presenting the idea to the Senate Floor.
According to a poll last year by the Huffington Post and YouGov, the bill had the full backing of both Democratic and Republican American voters.
Here is a breakdown of the findings percentage wise:
- Democrat voters: 61 percent in favour, 35 percent opposed
- Republican voters: 51 percent in favour, 41 percent opposed
- Independent voters: 47 percent in favour, 41 percent opposed
Surprisingly enough, 29 states in the U.S. can fire someone for being attracted to the same sex. Some of these states include Arizona, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Additional 21 states have their own laws set in place where LGBT employees are protected from workplace discrimination. Three of those states including Wisconsin, New York, and New Hampshire only cover employment security against sexual orientation and not gender identity.
Yet, 13 percent of Americans are completely oblivious to the fact that employers have the power to terminate employed workers solely because of their sexual orientation. Those same people believe that it’s legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian, while 69 percent believe that the act is illegal.
In the same instance, the majority of Republicans and Democrats who voted believed that homophobic job discriminating was illegal, especially when it pertains to firing a worker.
The poll determined the percentage of voters in the Senate House that assumed this to be true:
- 74 percent of Republican voters
- 68 percent Democrat voters
- 66 percent Independent voters
The poll also determined that half of Americans would support a law that bars discrimination practices against LGBT employees in the workplace.
Forty-two percent said that they would oppose the anything in favor of such workers in comparison to 50 percent of voters who said that they would be in support of the anti-discriminatory law.
With the number of public figures and celebrities coming out as openly gay, it seems that their transparency is helping push the agenda forward.
Announcements from the likes of American football player Michael Sam and Apple Inc.’s CEO Tim Cook, has sparked national conversation regarding equal career opportunities LGBT workers.
If the bill ever happens to go into effect, employers nationwide with 15 or more workers will have to abide by the provisions outlined in the ENDA.
While federal law already prohibits workplace discrimination against employers based on religion, race, nationality, age, or disability, a law in favor of the LGBT community may just be added to the list soon.