Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana is concerned about supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because of potential impacts on small businesses. Fortunately, he has said, in his letter to constituents on the issue: "I will continue to listen to thoughtful arguments about the bill." That's good, because small businesses will not, in fact, be harmed by the passage of this bill, and we have the facts to show that.
In my research for this article this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a new report by the United States General Accounting Office, dated October 1, 2009, specifically looking at the stats on ENDA's litigation potential based on state statistics.
There's been a lot of back and forth on the web about whether Senator Lugar would or would not be supportive about ENDA. But he did vote in favor of the hate crimes bill on several occasions, and was one of five Republican Senators who voted last week to stop the Republican filibuster on that bill. That's key in terms of bringing ENDA to an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, where we only need 50 votes (which we now have). Even if he ultimately finds that his convictions lead him to vote against ENDA because of the small business issue, the question is whether he will allow a Republican filibuster to defeat the democratic will of the majority.
But I think Senator Lugar should know this: No small businesses will be harmed in the passing of this law. Please call Senator Lugar and tell him that S1584, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, will not harm small businesses for two reasons.
Those two reasons, and contact info, after the jump.
Here are the two major reasons that we know ENDA is not harmful to small businesses.
1) There's a specific exemption for businesses with under 15 employees, which would cover 90% (200,000) of the 223,000 employers in Indiana.
That fact is right in the most current US census statistics on U.S. businesses, which you can view here: http://bit.ly/Wtp2W. (While the latest census statistics on this subject are a few years old, the same data page shows that the numbers haven't changed much over the last 20 years or so.) (For those of you concerned about ENDA being too weak, the same stats show that 85% of Indiana employees work for covered businesses.)
2) States with similar laws have seen few complaints, according to the October 1 GAO report.
The recent GAO report explicitly notes that, although most states with ENDA-type statutes cover businesses with fewer than 15 employees,
Generally, the administrative complaint data reported by states show relatively few employment discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The GAO report contains tables showing how many employee complaints there were on any basis, and how many were based on sexual orientation or gender identity for the past three years. When you add up the numbers in the report, it's about 4% of all employee complaints. This is going to add very little burden to businesses in general. Given the fact that the federal bill contains a small business exemption, the 4% figure is high.
Thus, Senator Lugar's concern about small businesses is misplaced.
Please let Senator Lugar know the good news that small businesses will not be harmed by S 1584, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and that he should support it.
If you're not sure what to say when you call, click here for a "Step-by-Step Script For Calling Legislators On ENDA."
You may get a staffer who is unaware of the Senator's position on ENDA. Take a moment to explain what it is, and to ask if he or she can get some information on the Senator's position. Tell us what they said in the comments below.
Sen. Richard G. Lugar:
(Toll free DC Capitol line: 866-220-0044)
Fort Wayne 260-422-1505
(Click here for email)