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Discrimination against LGBT employees still legal

A new employee settles in at her desk, puts a photo of her significant other in her office, and discusses mundane aspects of her personal life at work. Later, she brings her significant other into the office to meet her coworkers and her boss. After a few years, the employee notices that she has been passed up for promotions while others with fewer qualifications have moved ahead.

Why? According to a federal lawsuit she filed, it was because her significant other is a woman and her bosses know she is gay.

As in Pennsylvania, the state where this case took place does not have protection for gay employees. Federal law also fails to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, which means that being passed over for promotions simply for being gay was completely legal.

Advocates for gay rights have been lobbying for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (known as ENDA), which was introduced in a new version last month by lawmakers in both houses of Congress. The bill would protect LGBT employees in the United States from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, putting an end to both subtle and overt forms of discrimination and harassment against LGBT employees.

The bill has been proposed in different forms in the past but has been opposed by lawmakers who are concerned about infringing on the right of religious organizations to hire in accordance with their beliefs. The new version carves out a narrow exemption for religious organizations that are in that situation.

Source: MSNBC, "The fight for ENDA: Think you can't be fired for being gay? Think again," Emma Margolin, April 25, 2013.

Information about sexual orientation discrimination in Pennsylvania can be found on our website.

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