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Gays and Lesbians Still Face Workplace Challenges

Anti-Discrimination TrainingBasketball’s Jason Collins came out of the closet last month and made history by becoming the first openly gay, active major league athlete. By all accounts, he received a very warm reception. Protecting his workplace rights as a gay male, however, would be no slam dunk were it to come to that – at least not for now. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, is silent about discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Reformers have introduced the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in every Congressional session since 1994 and, in 1996, the measure failed to pass the Senate by just one vote.  On April 25, 2013, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced the latest version of ENDA in the House and Senate respectively.

ENDA’s fate in the House 113th Congress remains unclear but it’s not hard to tell which way the wind is blowing. According to The National Law Review, 87 percent of Fortune 500 companies already maintain policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and over 50 percent of those companies likewise prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia now prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Of those 21 states, all but five also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.  

It may be time to start preparing for ENDA. In the meantime, WeComply’s online Preventing Discrimination and Harassment  and Managing Within the Law  courses can teach managers how to comply with existing state and federal anti-discrimination laws and how to manage a diverse workplace.

Categories: Discrimination & Harassment Compliance
Tags: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment, Managing Within the Law

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