House of Representatives Passes Gay Rights Workplace Law—What Does it Mean for California Employers?
Yesterday, the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. passed the Employment Non-discrimination Act, a bill that provides protections against discrimination in the workplace for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals that are similar to the federal protections already in place for older workers, minorities and disabled workers under the federal ADEA, Title VII and Americans With Disabilities Act. For those interested in the politics of this event, 35 Republicans joined 200 Democrats voting for the bill, while 25 Democrats voted against the bill. The overall vote was 235-84.
While this is big news in today's newspapers, it probably will have little impact in California for two reasons:
1. Although this bill will also likely pass through the Senate, most expect President Bush to veto the measure and there are not sufficient votes to override such a veto; and,
2. Even if it became law, California's Fair Employment and Housing Act already offers virtually all the same protections as this bill and is actually much broader, offering similar protections to any individual discriminated against based on being transgender or based in any way on their gender identity (see 2004 amendments - AB 196).
Thus, while the path of this bill may have some interesting political ramifications and could influence how gay voters cast their ballots in 2008, for California employers it will have little practical workplace impact no matter whether it is enacted, defeated, or vetoed.