WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to finally prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I am proud to join my colleagues in re-introducing this important piece of civil rights labor legislation,” said Senator Akaka.  “For too long, we have left many hard-working Americans vulnerable to discrimination in the workplace based on such things as race, age or gender.  This bill would finally codify these fundamental protections, which are long overdue.  With its passage we can ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to support themselves and their families in America.”

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2011 would prohibit employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against those employed or seeking employment, on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.  Such protections are already in place prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability.

More than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies already extend workplace protections based on sexual orientation and more than one-third on the basis of gender identity.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been endorsed by national civil rights organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the ACLU, labor organizations and more than 75 Fortune 500 companies.