by Stevie Hall*
The United States has come a long way since the signing of the Constitution in 1787. However, 226 years later, the United States continues to pass laws to grant equality to every citizen.
Until Thursday November 7, 2013, employees could be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity within a company of more than 15 employees. Now, because of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) community are now protected in employment. As you may remember, a similar bill was passed in 2007, but it did not address transgender individuals.
ENDA is estimated to protect 600,000 members of the LGBT community who are in the workforce. So, what does this mean? Hiring, firing, promotions, compensation, and training cannot be based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. There are things that have to be worked out between the employee and the employer such as using locker rooms and backrooms if the employee is in the “transition” phase of gender identity. However, ENDA still applies to locker rooms and bathrooms.
ENDA doesn’t cover every employer however. ENDA exempts religious organizations including churches, companies, schools, colleges, and universities that are religiously owned, supported, or managed. However, schools that are not religiously associated, are covered by ENDA, and therefore, transgenders are legally protected to teach at those institutes.
Student Legal & Mediation Services helps Bearkats employment issues and discrimination issues. Please contact our office at 936-294-1717 if you need help. Let SLMS Point You in the Right Direction.