It has been illegal in Massachusetts for employers to discriminate against their employees based on sexual orientation since 1989. MA was the second state to enact such legislation and has since added gender identity to the list of protected classifications.
Many states have followed suit, but there remain 29 states that have no prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation and 34 states without a prohibition against gender identity discrimination.
However; proposed federal legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would fill this gap. ENDA is not new. It was first introduced in 1994 and has been introduced almost every year since then. This year Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid has said that there is a chance he will bring it before the floor for a vote.
Supporters of the bill were encouraged by Senator Reid’s recent disclosure that his niece is gay, in an interview with the Huffington Post. “She’s a school teacher. Her employment shouldn’t be affected with that. We should have a law that says that, not just the good graces of wherever you work.”
While ENDA wouldn’t change much for employers in Massachusetts or Connecticut, as it would in states without any protections, the uniformity of the law would create greater protections across the board for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered employees.
Photo credit: JodiWomack