Despite major gains in LGBT civil rights, our fundamental right to fairness in the workplace is precarious. Gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status are all used to demote, deny, and even fire perfectly capable and qualified employees. In 33 states, it is legal to fire someone based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, and in 37 states, there are no state laws that protect those who are fired based on their gender identity. Through NCLR’s case work, public advocacy, and public education, we are committed to ending discrimination in employment for all LGBT individuals. Across the states, in private corporations, and in local public jurisdictions, we inform and counsel important cases which lead to the adoption of non-discrimination policies.
On the national level, NCLR helped draft the pending Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Since 1994, ENDA has come before the U.S. Congress multiple times, and one day it will finally be passed into federal law. Until then, NCLR will continue to work in the courts and beyond to create equality in the workplace.
NCLR helped draft the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is a federal bill addressing discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity, defined to include gender expression. ENDA reinforces the principle of equal opportunity, meaning that employment decisions should be fair and should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance.
After many years of advocacy, in 2007, an inclusive ENDA (H.R. 2015) that would protect employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity was introduced—but did not pass or become law (though a bill covering sexual orientation only passed the House in late 2007). On January 6, 2009, Members of Congress raised their right hand and swore to uphold the Constitution as they begin the new legislative session. It is critical they hear from constituents about the importance of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Check NCLR’s ENDA Action Center for important updates and action alerts. Together, we can pass an inclusive bill. President Obama has stated his support of a fully inclusive ENDA in his civil rights agenda.
NCLR has partnered with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) to expand civil rights enforcement on behalf of low-income LGBT residents of rural California.
In rural communities, crosscurrents of poverty, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and immigration status have marginalized LGBT people. Low-income individuals in rural communities struggle to find affordable, local counsel with expertise in LGBT-related law.
In the face of these challenges, NCLR and CRLA have created Proyecto Poderoso—Powerful Project. Proyecto Poderoso will improve the daily lives of LGBT people in small towns and communities across California by helping them protect their rights.
Please contact NCLR today if you:
- Need information about the protections available in your city and state
- Are experiencing discrimination at work because of your LGBT status
- Are an employer or supervisor seeking to change your company’s culture to include discrimination protections for LGBT employees