Tomorrow Royal Oak (Michigan) votes on a local ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in housing and employment against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.
The Royal Oak City Commission passed the ordinance in March, but enough residents signed a petition to keep it from taking effect. If this ordinance is enacted, Royal Oak would join approximately 29 other Michigan municipalities that have adopted ordinances adding language including sexual orientation to bans against discrimination, including employment discrimination.
This blog previously discussed the significant negative economic impact failing to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination has on Michigan. See Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Michigan Law – Is it a Time for a Change? In sum and setting aside one’s view on sexual orientation, permitting sexual orientation discrimination is increasingly shown to be objectively bad for Michigan’s economy and a company’s overall employment relations.
On the federal level, Congress is also considering legislation, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees. ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th.
National Public Radio reported that ENDA is only one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier this week that he will push for a vote as early as next week. However, it’s unlikely that ENDA will be taken up in the Republican-controlled House. But it would force Senate Republicans to take a stance on the issue, and could paint House Republicans as being out of step with the majority of Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination.
We will continue to follow this legislation and the impact it would have on Michigan employers and employees. For more information about such legislation or legal issues and policies involving sexual orientation discrimination, contact Jason Shinn who focuses on federal and Michigan employment law issues. This experience specifically includes advising companies going back to 2001 on responding to same-sex marriage and sexual orientation issues that arise in the workplace.