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DTCI: An updated to Employment Non-discriminaiton Act

Amy S. , Takeia R. Johnson
March 3, 2010
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ENDA has stalled in Congress since it was first introduced in 1994. The current version of the bill was originally introduced in the summer of 2009 by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) (H.R. 2981, H.R. 3017, S. 1584). The House Education and Labor Committee held a full committee hearing on the bill in September 2009, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ('HELP") held a hearing on ENDA in November 2009. The bills are still pending.

Protection Offered by Pending ENDA of 2009

While some transgender plaintiffs have been successful in asserting claims for gender discrimination based upon nonconformity to certain gender stereotypes, ENDA supporters assert that the new law will provide a more defined route for claiming employment discrimination. ENDA applies to employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in at least 20 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. It excludes bona fide membership clubs, religious organizations, and the armed forces. It does not affect "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." ENDA prohibits employers from using an individual's sexual orientation and gender identity, actual or perceived, in all aspects of employment, including hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, and terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

Under the proposed law, association discrimination is also prohibited. Therefore, an employer could not take an adverse employment action based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person with whom the individual associates or has associated. Retaliation is also unlawful. While disparate treatment claims are actionable, disparate impact claims are not, which is a significant departure from Title VII. Further, employers are expressly prohibited from using preferential treatment and quotas based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA does not require that employers provide benefits to samesex partners, and it does not apply retroactively. ENDA does not allow the EEOC to collect statistics on sexual orientation or gender identity or compel employers to collect such statistics.

ENDA also clarifies what actions employers may take in instituting dress code and grooming policies. Employers may still require employees to follow reasonable dress or grooming standards as long as persons who have undergone gender transition before the time of employment, or persons who have notified employers that they have undergone or are currently undergoing gender transition, are permitted to adhere to the same dress code and grooming standard for the gender the employee has transitioned to, or is transitioning to.

Current State and Federal Coverage of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims

Currently, 21 states, including Connecticut, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Maryland, prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Another 12 states, including Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Rhode Island, Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Indiana does not recognize a cause of action for employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. Ind. Code § 22-9-1 et seq. The Indiana Civil Rights Law provides protection against discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, or ancestry. Id.

Marion County and Monroe County, however, include sexual orientation and gender identity among a list of classes to be protected from discrimination in employment. The following Indiana counties and cities prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in private and public employment but do not prohibit gender identity discrimination: Tippecanoe County, and the cities of Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Michigan City, Terre Haute, West Lafayette, and South Bend.

With the patchwork of state laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender discrimination, ENDA would explicitly provide an employment discrimination cause of action to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

The Seventh Circuit's treatment of gender discrimination claims brought by transsexual individuals is representative of several other circuits that have addressed the issue. The court held in Ulane v. E. Airlines, Inc., that Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination means only that it is "unlawful to discriminate against women because they are women and men because they are men." 742 F.2d 1081, 1086 (7th Cir. 1984). Where a plaintiff can show only that he or she was discriminated against as a transsexual, and not as a man or a woman, Title VII provides no protection. Other circuits holding that transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII include the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits. See Sommers v. Budget Mktg., Inc., 667 F.2d 748, 749-50 (8th Cir. 1982); Holloway v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 566 F.2d 659, 662-62 (9th Cir. 1977); and Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority, 502 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir. 2007).

LGBT individuals, similar to heterosexual individuals, may still bring "gender stereotyping" claims under Title VII as a basis for arguing gender discrimination claims if they can present sufficient evidence to prove that harassment or discrimination occurred "because of sex" and not solely because of sexual orientation. See Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 251 (1989) (holding that discrimination against an employee for her failure to conform to socially defined gender norms was illegal under Title VII). Successful claims of gender discrimination have generally proven elusive for lesbian, gay, and bisexual ("LGB") plaintiffs because courts find that these plaintiffs suffered discrimination because of their sexual orientation, not because of their gender. Therefore, transgender plaintiffs have seen a bit more success than LGB plaintiffs under Title VII.

Following Price Waterhouse, courts have been more willing to grant transgender individuals protection under Title VII because of their nonconformance with socially defined gender roles. Tanya A. De Vos, Tenth Annual Review of Gender and Sexuality Law: Employment Law Chapter: Sexuality and Transgender Issues in Employment Law, 10 Geo. J. Gender & L. 599, 606 (2009); See also Spearman v. Ford Motor Co., 213 F.3d 1080, 1085 (7th Cir. 2000) (noting that "sex stereotyping may constitute evidence of sex discrimination"); and Schwenk v. Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187, 1202 (9th Cir. 2000) (noting that Title VII prohibits "discrimination because one fails to act in the way expected of a man or woman").

In Schroer v. Billington, the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, in granting relief to a transgender plaintiff who sued for discrimination in violation of Title VII because of sex, held that the findings in Ulane, Holloway, and Etsitty are "no longer a tenable approach to statutory construction." Schroer, 577 F. Supp. 2d 293, 307 (D.D.C. 2008). The district court held that the "[l]ibrary's refusal to hire Schroer after being advised that she planned to change her anatomical sex by undergoing sex reassignment surgery was literally discrimination 'because of ... sex.'" Id. at 308. The court further stated:

In refusing to hire Schroer because of her appearance and background did not comport with the decisionmaker's sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear, and in response to Schroer's decision to transition, legally, culturally, and physically, from male to female, the Library of Congress violated Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination.

Id.

Opposing Viewpoints

Supporters of ENDA maintain it is the logical addition to other federal civil rights legislation following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Those supporters also point to a civil rights law that was recently passed by Congress. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act ("HCPA") (P.L. 111-84), which President Obama signed into law on October 28, 2009, gives the Department of Justice the power to investigate and prosecute biasmotivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected a victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gen- der identity, or disability.

ENDA opponents argue that it will impose additional burdens upon employers, including religious organizations such as those comprising the National Religious Broadcasters, and that there will be an influx of frivolous employment discrimination lawsuits filed. These opponents argued before the Senate HELP committee that the following uncertainties were present in the current text of ENDA: whether Title VII and ENDA will provide duplicate causes of action for sex stereotyping; how disparate impact claims will be defined under ENDA; whether ENDA was intended to provide additional attorneys' fees above those available under Title VII; when an employer's affirmative obligations for providing shared facilities and applying dress and grooming codes are triggered and whether "shared facilities" include restrooms; and whether employers are required to modify existing facilities.

Practical Considerations

Should this law pass, employers should not necessarily anticipate a significant increase in the number of employment discrimination charges filed. States that have adopted laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity have shown only slight increases in these types of discrimination charges. For instance, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reported during her November 5, 2009, testimony before the Senate HELP committee that since Illinois adopted its sexual orientation and gender identity inclusive antidiscrimination policy in 2006, only 2.9 percent of the total employment discrimination charges filed were based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This is less than the ten percent of sexual orientation or gender identity employment discrimination charges the Illinois Department of Human Rights expected to be filed upon enactment of the new policy. If signed into law, employers should expect to revise their nondiscrimination policies and their training policies to comply with the provisions of ENDA. Finally, the EEOC will likely issue regulations to assist employers with compliance.
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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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