US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin Applauds Executive Order to Ban LGBT Discrimination Among Federal Employees and Contractors

Harkin Led Bipartisan Senate Passage of Fully-Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Friday, July 18, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today regarding the news that on Monday, President Obama will sign an Executive Order (EO) banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers among federal contractors. The EO will also ban discrimination against federal workers on the basis of gender identity.

“Discrimination has no place in the office or on the job site.  This order will allow the federal government to once again lead by example when it comes to eliminating discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. I commend President Obama for moving forward with an Executive Order that will take significant steps towards stamping out workplace discrimination,” Harkin said. “Until the House passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, however, workers in many states can still be fired, passed over for employment, or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In November 2013, Harkin led the Senate to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time.  Previously Harkin, as Chairman of the HELP Committee, oversaw the markup of the first Senate version of ENDA to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against those employed or seeking employment on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. Such protections are already in place prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability. More than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies already extend workplace protections based on sexual orientation and more than one-third on the basis of gender identity.

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