Workplace Fairness Act Introduced in 105th Congress

Bilbray Proposal Fights Employment Discrimination Against All Americans

March 12, 1997 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON) Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) reintroduced the Workplace Fairness Act on March 6, which he originally introduced in the 104th Congress. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Horn (R-CA), Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY), Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Rep. Jim Traficant (D-OH) and Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, would prohibit employment discrimination on any basis other than "qualities pertaining to job performance" for all Americans, including gays and lesbians.

Log Cabin Republicans praised the introduction of WFA as a bold, bi-partisan effort in Congress which would address employment discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans.

"We believe that merit should be the only basis for employment in America, and things such as race, sex, religion and sexual orientation should not be a consideration," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "In most communities across the country, gays and lesbians have no protections at all against employment discrimination. The Workplace Fairness Act would ensure that all Americans, including gays and lesbians, are judged only on their merits and qualifications."

In an innovative approach, Bilbray's bill would fight discrimination in a blanket fashion, rather than adding new protected classes under the traditional civil rights model. The bill enumerates "qualities pertaining to job performance," which includes employment history, ability, willingness to work, educational background, criminal records, conflicts of interest and other items. Different standards or treatment of employees and applicants on any other basis, such as sexual orientation, would be prohibited. WFA would not limit, amend or repeal any protected-class civil rights laws currently in force, but would complement them by availing the same protections to all other Americans.