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Harkin Leads Employment Non-Discrimination Act to Senate Passage

Bipartisan effort passed HELP Committee in July; now moves to House for consideration

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today welcomed the final vote by the Senate to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Harkin, as Chairman of the HELP Committee, oversaw the bipartisan passage of ENDA in the Committee this July.

“Today’s vote to pass ENDA marks another historic step in the long march to full equality for all Americans,” Harkin said. “By voting to outlaw discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity, we are saying to our LGBT brothers and sisters that they are fully included and respected members of our American family. Eight out of 10 Americans already think such discrimination is illegal and by moving to pass this into law, we can ensure that workplaces across the country are  open and welcoming to every qualified worker eager to contribute to the economy. I thank my colleagues in the Senate on both sides of the aisle for making this possible and urge the House to move swiftly to pass this bill and send it to the President’s desk for his signature.”

The bill 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.