Current federal laws prohibit employment discrimination based upon gender, race, religion, and national origin. Unfortunately, federal laws do not prohibit an employer from firing an employee due to the employee’s sexual orientation.
Politicians are attempting to increase federal protections for LGBT employees, and are currently debating the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”). The bill would set a federal standard preventing private employers from firing an employee based upon sexual orientation or identity. Recently, President Barak Obama wrote an article pleading for Congress to pass ENDA. On November 7, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the bill, with ten republicans joining fifty-two democrats and two independents.
While the Senate passed the bill, the House will also need to pass ENDA before it becomes law. Unfortunately, the future prospects for ENDA appear unlikely due to the fact that the GOP controls the House.
Beyond the federal government, there are some protections for LGBT employees. Approximately twenty-one states, including Illinois, currently ban employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Some companies have also implemented their own policies to offer greater protection for employees.