Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said she would work on legislation to extend legal protections against discrimination to U.S. troops, Reuters reported.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or religion.
The U.S. government has considered military servicemembers as not federal employees, thus not under Title VII.
Gillibrand’s move follows an investigation last year showing troops were far less likely to file racial discrimination complaints than their civilian counterparts.
A 2017 survey – the results of which were sat on for years – also shows that almost a third of Black U.S. military servicemembers reported experiencing racial discrimination and/or harassment during a 12-month period.
“Disturbing new data shows that our service members are suffering due to a lack meaningful civil rights protections, while their civilian colleagues in the Department of Defense and across the government enjoy robust rights enshrined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” Gillibrand said.
Extending Title VII to troops could possibly also benefit women, lesbian, gay and transgender servicemembers suffering gender discrimination.