Committee on Education and Labor Hears Testimony on Workplace Discrimination
(September 23, 2009, Washington, DC)—The House Committee on Education and Labor, led by Chairman George Miller, heard testimony this morning about the devastating impact of workplace discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The hearing was part of the Committee’s work on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), HR 3017.
One witness, Vandy Beth Glenn, had worked for the Georgia state legislature for a number of years until the day when she informed her supervisor that she was transitioning from male to female; she was immediately fired from her job. Her experiences, unfortunately, are not unique. The recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey led by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) found that 26% of the 6,450 transgender people surveyed had faced an adverse job action, such as losing their jobs, being denied a promotion or not being hired because of their gender identity or expression. Almost every person who responded to the survey—a staggering 97%— had experienced harassment or discrimination on the job because they are transgender.
“Now is the time that we must pass legislation designed to protect Americans from this kind of blatant and unfair discrimination,” commented NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling. “Every single day, transgender people are being fired for being who they are, even when they have excellent work records and skills. As a result, their families struggle and often fail to make ends meet, people lose their homes, careers end, all because someone’s supervisor decided that it was okay to discriminate. That is not the American way. This legislation is absolutely needed to make it clear that discrimination is never acceptable.”
Several committee members were visibly moved by Ms. Glenn’s testimony and expressed concern at the way she was treated. They also asked detailed questions of the witnesses and many cited their support for ENDA’s passage.
Transgender advocates continue to be actively engaged in work to pass ENDA, with people around the country visiting, writing and calling their members of Congress. A companion bill has already been introduced in the Senate, S.1584.