Congressional hearings began yesterday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw work place discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill was narrowly defeated in the Senate last year by a vote of 50-49.
Gays and lesbians who were fired because of their orientation described the hostile work environments and blatant discrimination they faced. An assembly-line worker was called “fag” and “queer” at work for over a decade. A woman who played soccer for the Gay Games on her vacation was fired upon her return. A restaurant worker who had been recommended for a management position at a new restaurant was abruptly fired when a co-worker reveal the man’s sexual orientation to their boss. When he sought legal recourse, he was told that there were no laws protecting gays and lesbians from job discrimination in his state.
Executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, Elizabeth Birch, said “Today, it is perfectly legal under federal law to fire a person simply because he or she is gay, lesbian, or bisexual.” ENDA seeks to prevent gays and lesbians from unfair job treatment simply because of their orientation.