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Watch: U.S. Senate Full Committee Hearing – Equality At Work: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Watch it live: Tuesday, June 12 2012, 10:00 AM
106 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Panel I

  • M. V. Lee Badgett , Research Director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
  • Kylar Broadus , Founder, Trans People of Color Coalition, Columbia, MO
  • Samuel Bagenstos , Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Ken Charles , Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
  • Craig Parshal , Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters Association, Manassas, VA

From the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund submitted testimony for today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), federal legislation to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently there are no clear federal employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and no such protections exist in over half the states.

Task Force testimony underscores the critical need to pass ENDA. It includes personal stories of workplace discrimination against LGBT people and statistics on the prevalence of such discrimination. Read the full testimony here.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has long advocated for ENDA. This includes coordinating a Lobby Day where hundreds of LGBT rights supporters converged on U.S. Senate offices to push for the measure’s passage; and most recently, mobilizing supporters to urge for a committee vote.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director,National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Too many of us still head to work each day terrified it may be our last, simply because of who we are or who we love. The stories are painful, and the statistics are startling. But this is the reality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all across America. To be open and honest about who we are, about our families, often means taking a huge risk in the workplace. Something as simple as sharing with a co-worker what you and your spouse did over the weekend could place your livelihood in peril.

“America prides itself on giving everyone a fair shake and allowing them to fully and freely contribute their skills and talents. ENDA reflects these core values. It is why the public overwhelmingly supports job protections for qualified and competent LGBT workers. Many people think these protections already exist, but that’s not the case. There is no clear federal law, and there are no such laws in over half the states. This jeopardizes our ability to have or keep employment, housing and feed our families. ENDA will level the playing field once and for all.”

Injustice at Every Turn shows transgender people at particular risk

The Task Force’s testimony includes alarming findings from our groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgend ()er Discrimination Survey.

It found that employment discrimination against transgender people is a nearly universal experience: 26 percent report losing a job simply because they are transgender, and 78 percent report mistreatment or discrimination at the workplace, forcing many to hide who they are to avoid workplace abuse and to keep their jobs.

In addition, survey respondents experienced other hardships stemming from the challenges related to employment. Almost one-fifth reported becoming homeless because of being transgender, and respondents had less access to employer-provided health insurance coverage compared to the population at large.

Widespread LGBT job discrimination

A 2007 meta-analysis from the Williams Institute of 50 studies of LGBT job discrimination found consistent evidence of bias in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination, and up to 17 percent said they had been fired or denied employment.

“The bottom line: The state of the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — transgender people in particular — is absolutely shameful,” says Carey. “We need ENDA now.”

Human Rights Campaign:

“The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is critical so that Americans have a fair shake in the workplace today and so that no young person must choose between being who they are and striving for their strongest aspirations for the future,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “ENDA must be passed because, for too many LGBT people in this country, that dream remains out of reach.”

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently such protections exist in only 21 states and DC for sexual orientation and 16 states and DC for gender identity.

“We thank Chairman Harkin and Senators Merkley, Kirk, Casey and Collins for their leadership on fair workplaces,” added Griffin.

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Pam Spaulding

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