• Beginning Of ENDA in Sight
  • December 11, 2013 | Author: Elizabeth A. Cordello
  • Law Firm: Underberg & Kessler LLP - Rochester Office
  • Chances are now better than ever that the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will soon become federal law. Modeled closely after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, ENDA prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    While various versions of ENDA have been unsuccessfully proposed for nearly two decades, many credit the recent significant shift in public opinion in favor of gay rights to ENDA’s current unprecedented support. ENDA would not apply to small businesses, religious institutions and the military. Further, ENDA would not permit disparate impact claims.

    Currently, 29 states do not ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, making ENDA the most significant piece of gay-rights legislation since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. The New York Executive Law has long banned workplace discrimination based upon sexual orientation and has been construed by courts to also protect gender identity claims. As such, the passage of ENDA will not create a major change for New York employers; however, liability in this area will increase as ENDA would allow for additional damages and federal court jurisdiction.