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Call for ENDA Executive Order After EEOC Sex-Discrimination Settlement

Call for ENDA Executive Order After EEOC Sex-Discrimination Settlement

by Karen Ocamb on January 13, 2012

Secretary Solis accepts the Capital Award from Tico Almeida, Chairman of the Hispanic National Bar Association's Committee on Labor and Employment Law Section (Photo from the Labor Department)

With all the election-year talk about “jobs, jobs, jobs” one would think someone would call for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, an inclusive federal bill that would ban bias in hiring and firing and harassment against LGBT people – and those perceived to be LGBT – on the job.

The issue came up last Friday, Jan 6, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) won a $155,000 settlement against DynCorp International LLC, a military contractor and aircraft maintenance company based in a sex-based workplace discrimination case, according to the Washington Blade.

According to the EEOC complaint, straight employee James Friso was subjected to ongoing harassment, including antigay epithets, while working in Taji, Iraq in Nov. 2006 in front of co-workers and management. The Blade reports:

The co-worker allegedly called Friso “faggot,” “dick-sucker,” and “queer” on a daily basis. Other comments allegedly referenced Friso’s stature, who’s five-feet, four inches tall, including “whiney little bitch,” “short little mother fucker” and “short little bitch.”

Additionally, the co-worker accused Friso of engaging in homosexual acts, even though the co-workers knew Friso was married to a woman. The co-worker allegedly made this comment in front of management, but no action was taken.

The complaint states Friso regularly complained to DynCorp management, but no action was taken. After continued complaints, managers allegedly told Friso they “would get rid of him.”

In fact, Friso was transferred to Germany at lower pay while his alleged harasser remained on the job without issue.

The Blade reports that the settlement is the result of an EEOC complaint filed in August 2011 saying the sex-based discrimination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. But the settlement did not include a mandate to include worker protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which infuriated Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, who noted that DynCorp makes about $2 billion a year from federal contracts, which accounts for more than 96% of its revenue.

Almeida is calling on President Obama to issue an ENDA Executive Order enabling people who are and are perceived to be LGBT to file workplace discrimination complaints directly with the Labor Department.

From the Blade:

“The company will not have to add sexual orientation or gender identity to its non-discrimination policy,” Almeida said. “Even after this case, DynCorp can discriminate against LGBT employees while getting fat on billions of dollars in taxpayer money.”

Almeida said the action against DynCorp demonstrates the need for an executive order prohibiting federal dollars from going to companies that do not have non-discrimination protections for employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The members of the civil rights enforcement team at the Department of Labor currently have their hands tied and are not allowed to investigate federal contractors like DynCorp for discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation because President Obama has not yet signed the ENDA executive order,” Almeida said….

During just the past few months alone, the president has taken more than 20 strong executive actions under the slogan ‘We Can’t Wait’ for the current dysfunctional Congress to act,” Almeida said. “It’s a logical next step to sign an executive order granting LGBT Americans the freedom to work for federal contractors without fear of discrimination or harassment on the job.”

The White House hasn’t said whether it would be open to issuing such an executive order despite the president’s support for ENDA.

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