Bennet: Discrimination On Account of Gender, Race, or Sexual Orientation Simply Can't Be Tolerated in America

Takes Part in HELP Committee Hearing on Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Bennet: One of the Bedrock Principles of Our Country is Fundamental Fairness

Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today pushed for the Employment Non-Discrimination ACT (ENDA) to protect lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers from discrimination in the workplace.

Bennet participated in a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on the legislation. The hearing witnesses included several experts on civil rights law, including Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas E. Perez and Helen Norton, a law professor at the University of Colorado School of Law.

Bennet, who is a co-sponsor of ENDA, asked Perez about what steps the Justice Department would take to make sure that employees and employers across the country were aware of the law and educated about their rights in the workplace.

"This is a country that is built on fundamental fairness and where discrimination is something that simply can't be tolerated," Bennet said. "One of the things about civil rights laws is that they're not just about punishing those who would wish to trample on them, they're about fostering a movement toward better, fairer workplaces."

Current federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability. Courts, however, have held that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, most notably the ban on discrimination based on sex, does not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Currently, 12 states-including Colorado-and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes that prohibit such discrimination and another nine states bar job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation alone.