Workplace discrimination bill stalls in congress

Frank S. Clowney III

Members of California’s LGBT community may have been following with interest the progress of a bill now in the hands of the U.S. Congress. This bill aims to address the fact that presently no federal law exists offering protections from workplace discrimination specifically for LGBT individuals.

Currently, Congress has not taken much initiative to see to the passing of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Should the act be made law, it would provide protections for those of the LGBT community in cases of harassment or wrongful termination.

Were President Obama to so choose, he could issue an executive order regarding the matter. However, if he does this, the act would only cover those who worker under federal contracts. Therefore, the White House contends that Congress is best suited to pass the act, as it would then extend to all U.S. citizens.

Unfortunately, Speaker of the House John Boener has indicated that EDNA will not receive congressional attention through the course of this year. Thus the bill is essentially stalled until Congress sees fit to put it back into play.

Californians can take comfort in the fact that their state is ahead of the curve on this issue. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited by The California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Under this act, LGBT workers are granted protection from discriminatory acts such as harassment, denial of promotion and refusal of hiring.

Being discriminated against simply for being who you are is a painful experience. In California, if an employer treats you unequally there are legal avenues open to respond to this treatment. An employer may be made to pay expenses to compensate for the distress, both physical and emotional, caused by poor treatment at the workplace. If you believe you have been the target of discrimination, talking to an attorney may be a good way to begin the healing process.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Fired, Harassed LGBT Workers Wonder Why Obama Won’t ‘Stick His Neck Out’ On ENDA,” March 8, 2014