We Don't Hire Your Kind: The Zikerria Bellamy Resource Kit
Appendix: Employment Discrimination Laws
Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Federal law provides legal protection against employment discrimination based upon an individual’s race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, and age, but not gender identity or sexual orientation. In 38 states, there is no law making it illegal to fire or fail to hire someone because he or she is transgender. In 29 states, there is no law barring an employer from firing someone based upon his or her sexual orientation.
The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S.1584) 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 gender identity or sexual orientation at companies with fifteen or more employees. The legislation was introduced in the United States Senate on August 5, 2009. On November 5, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held the Senate’s first hearing on the latest version of ENDA. A version of ENDA was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives on June 24, 2009. The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the measure on September 23.
According to a 2007 survey, 72 percent of Americans agree that "fairness is a basic American value and employment decisions should be based solely on qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people." In a 2002 poll, 61 percent of those polled said that we need laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has stated his belief that anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
While no provision of Florida law explicitly addresses discrimination based on gender identity, administrative agencies in Florida have ruled that transgender people are protected by the Florida Human Rights Act’s prohibitions on sex and disability discrimination. The Competitive Workforce Bill, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act, was introduced in the Florida legislature on November 20.
- Twelve states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws that ban discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Those states include: Minnesota (1993), Rhode Island (1995, 2001), New Mexico (2003), California (1992, 2003), District of Columbia (1997. 2005), Illinois (2005), Maine (2005), New Jersey (1992, 2006), Washington (2006), Iowa (2007), Oregon (2007), Vermont (1992, 2007), and Colorado (2007).
- Nine additional states have adopted laws that ban discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Those states include: Wisconsin (1982), Massachusetts (1989), Connecticut (1991), Hawaii (1991), New Hampshire (1997), Nevada (1999), Maryland (2001), New York (2002), and Delaware (2009).
- Additionally, six states have an executive order, administrative order, or personnel regulation prohibiting discrimination against public employees based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. Those states include: Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Three states prohibit discrimination against public employees based upon sexual orientation only. Those states include: Arizona, Montana, and Virginia.
Hundreds of companies have enacted policies protecting their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of September 2009, 434 (87%) of Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. 207 (41%) had policies that include gender identity. McDonald’s Corporation’s non-discrimination policy does not prohibit discrimination based upon gender identity or expression.