On Nov. 7, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. This bill provides a federal level of protection which mirrors laws already in effect for workers in California and 16 other states. The purpose of the bill is to eliminate employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Supporters of the bill feel that workplace discrimination can contribute a to hostile work environment and is wrong.

The next step required for the bill to become law is being passed by the House of Representatives. Proponents of the bill, including President Obama, have called for the House to take this action. President Obama has stated that he would sign the bill. Passage in the House is unlikely, however, as the majority of House Republicans, including the speaker, oppose the bill.

The bill has existed in various forms since it was first proposed in the House of Representatives in 1994. It was not brought up for a vote that year, and in 1996 a Senate version was voted on but did not pass. In 2007, the House passed a version of the bill that prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. A new version bill was brought up again in 2009.

Proponents of employees’ civil rights have kept close track of the progress of the bill, some also hoping that its passage could also reduce other types of discrimination in the workplace. In the meantime, workers who feel that they have been subjected to a hostile work environment or have been discriminated against may choose to file a claim if their state has its own laws similar to ENDA and those in the state of California.

Source: CNN, “Senate passes LGBT anti-discrimination bill“, Leigh Ann Caldwell, November 08, 2013