Senate Committee Approves Non-Discrimination Act

July 17, 2013

pic-employees-smOn July 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported favorably the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (S. 815) by a 15-7 vote.  All Democrats and Republican Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) voted in favor of the bill. This legislation would make it an unlawful employment practice under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to discriminate on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill would limit claims to disparate treatment (not disparate impact).  In general, disparate impact refers to employment policies or practices that appear to be neutral, but result in a disproportionate impact on the protected class. Disparate treatment is intentional discrimination, although the discriminatory intent may be inferred from the factual situation.

There is an exemption for religious organizations and for the armed forces.

There is similar legislation in the House (H.R. 1755) that has 177 co-sponsors.  This legislation has been referred to the House Committees on Education and the Workforce, House Administration, Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary.

It is not clear when the full Senate or the various House committees will take up the legislation.

To read the statement of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Harkin on the legislation, click here.