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Pass ENDA Now!

I find it very disconcerting and disappointing that as a society we have to regulate those with no moral compass by passing and enforcing laws to protect against discrimination. Shouldn’t people with common sense, common courtesy, and any level of intelligence know how to treat others? (Yes, I often wear rose-colored glasses, but when it comes to discrimination and what I have seen perpetuated against others, I’m afraid rose-colored glasses just don’t work.) We had to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit employment discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or national origin, with the Age Discrimination Employment Act following three years later to make sure discrimination based on age would not take place. A couple of decades later we realized we needed Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to protect qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace.

Sadly, here we are in 2007 having to again take people by the ear, sit them down, and legislate to them what ought to be ingrained in the compassion, tolerance, and understanding (never mind common sense) section of their human nature. But alas fear, misunderstanding, and closed-mindedness take over the brain cells of far too many people who are in a position to make or break the careers of many in the workforce. Just as institutional racism took hold and has yet to loosen its grip enough, homophobic bigotry has placed its heavy hand inside the walls of commerce and has choked the life out of the livelihood of many.

With permission from the Human Rights Campaign, I am reposting some very important information from their web site, which I ask you to not only take the time to read, but to act upon. My sincere hope is that everyone (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and every other category in between) will realize how ridiculous the notion is that anything other than job qualification should come into play in the hiring/firing/ promoting of employees. IF someone is qualified for a job, and IF that person is hard-working and honest, then there is no logical reason to NOT hire/retain/promote that person. It should not matter how light or dark someone’s pigmentation is, which god they believe in (if any), whether they are male or female, how old they might be, or whether they have some form of a disability, nor should it ever matter what that person’s sexual orientation is, as long as they are qualified for the job. That’s it, end of story.

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The problem. Qualified, hardworking Americans are being denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against – not because of their performance and abilities, but because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet those who experience this form of discrimination have no recourse under current federal law.

And state protections are few and far between. 31 states, it’s legal to fire someone because they’re gay; in 39 states it is legal to fire someone for being transgender.

Employment discrimination strikes at a fundamental American value – the right of each individual to contribute to society without facing unfair treatment. That’s why the Human Rights Campaign is working with its allies in Congress to pass ENDA.

What is ENDA? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a federal bill that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance.

What’s the current law? Currently, federal law protects against employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

What is HRC doing in the business community? In addition to advocating for the passage of ENDA, the Human Rights Campaign has been working with private employers to encourage them to adopt policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Partly due to HRC’s efforts, non-discrimination policies covering gender identity and expression continue to multiply. For example, a total of 124 Fortune 500 companies now include transgender people in their policies; this is more then 10 times the number that had such policies in 2001. In addition, exactly 49 of the Fortune 50 companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. (Exxon Mobil Corp. is the only company in the Fortune 50 that does not.) In fact, 433 companies in the Fortune 500 – or nearly 90 percent – include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies as of spring 2007.

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