Current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin, but it doesn’t stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire a worker solely because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
The bill would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion.
With a vote possible as early as next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., needs 60 votes to overcome a likely Republican-led filibuster. Reid has the support of all 52 Democrats, two independents and is expected to get the vote of Democrat Cory Booker, who will be sworn in as New Jersey senator on Thursday.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have already approved laws banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those also prohibit employers from discriminating based on gender identity.
Article continues belowAbout 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies have already adopted non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. About 57 percent of those companies include gender identity.
This would be the first time ENDA has been voted on in the U.S. Senate in 17 years and the first time a transgender-inclusive ENDA has received a vote.
A spokesperson for Reid told LGBTQ Nation on Monday that the exact scheduling of a floor vote has yet to be determined.