House to review Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 this session

This month, the 113th Congress will reconvene for the second session. New bills will be introduced and bills from the previous session will resume in committee.

A bill in particular that offers workplace protection for LGBT individuals is set to advance.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

The bill, referred to as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, was introduced in the U.S. Senate last April. It was referred to committee, later voted on, and passed by members of the Senate in November 2013.

However, as the holidays commenced, 113th Congress ended session for the year, leaving the bill pending advancement into the House for vote.

Specific prohibited activities

The bill prohibits a number of workplace discriminatory activities on the basis of an individuals’ “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” The language of the bill stipulates discriminatory activities that include:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Segregating
  • Negatively classifying employees or applicants

Unpaid employees

The law also stipulates that these discriminatory practices are prohibited against unpaid employees such as interns (those that work for free in exchange for on-the-job training) as well as volunteers are included.

Retaliation

The bill also prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who oppose any of the unlawful conduct stipulated in the law, or who “made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this Act.”

Types of employers impacted by the law

It’s important to understand the types of employers, however, that must abide by the law if passed. The law does not stipulate that it will apply to just business owners. It will also apply to:

  • Employment agencies
  • Labor unions
  • Joint labor-management committees

However, the bill exempts certain religious entities and actions that involve members of the armed forces from these prohibitions.

Likelihood of success

It remains to be seen whether the bill will find success with House members, pass and find its way to the President’s desk for signing. Typically, bills are modified before approval. If passed, it may take a while before an official bill is finalized.

However, workplace advocates indicate that at least proactive measures have started in protecting all persons from discrimination in the workplace.

The bill is the first gay rights bill since the military bill banning gays from serving the armed forced was repealed a few years ago.