Support Expanded Employment Non-Discrimination

Oct 23, 2007

BackgroundThe House of Representatives is currently considering legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR.2015), introduced by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), forbids employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their perceived or actual gender identity or sexual orientation, and prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. These provisions are not applicable to religious institutions or the armed forces.

In addition, this legislation prohibits the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from collecting statistics from covered entities on sexual orientation or gender identity or compelling the collection by covered entities of such statistics. Also, it gives various bodies (including the EEOC, librarian of Congress, Attorney General, and U.S. courts) the same enforcement powers as they have under previous legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991. Â This bill also specifies that state governments are liable to prosecution under these provisions for violating the non-discrimination act, as is the federal government, with limitations.

Presently, ENDA has 171 cosponsors with four Congressional Committees in the House of Representatives that have oversight. Additionally, 52 American corporations have committed their institutional support to H.R.2015. The original ENDA legislation was introduced in 1994 in both the House and the Senate, with NASW steadfastly seeking enactment of a measure which sought inherent protections for the LGBT community. However, in 1996, ENDA came before the Senate and lost by a single vote. H.R.2015 provides protections, insulations, and basic security that are aligned with other civil rights and business regulatory legislation.

Professional social workers have a rich tradition of activist concern regarding societal inequities such as racism and discrimination. To this end, a core mission of social work is to serve underrepresented and marginalized communities. For this reason, social workers are profoundly committed to advocating for a humane society that will resolve to fight intolerance, bigotry, and injustice against all people. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act represents Congress’ desire to move towards this goal. We believe HR.2015 requires bipartisan support and immense grassroots activism. NASW remains committed to the principles of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act and to redressing societal inequality. Public support for ENDA is strong. It is clear that Americans know that ENDA represents a measured and pragmatic response to unjust prejudice and discrimination. Social Workers are unified in their belief that discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, is real and serious.

Action Needed

A vote on this legislation could occur before Congress takes its fall recess. Please call your Representatives at 202-224-3121 and urge them to support HR.2015, The Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Let your Representatives know that you are a constituent and a social worker requesting their support for the alleviation of intolerance and the protection of civil liberties.

Contact: Lawrence Moore, III at (202) 336-8289