13,100 LGBT Workers in Alaska Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
July 22, 2015

Contact:
Lauren Jow, jow@law.ucla.edu, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 13,100 LGBT workers in Alaska are vulnerable to employment discrimination absent explicit statewide legal protections, according to a new report co-authored by Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel, and Brad Sears, Executive Director, at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. None of Alaska’s workforce is covered by local laws banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“A statewide law prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would bring new protections to thousands of workers without burdening courts and agencies,” Mallory said. “Most likely, the cost of handling complaints filed under the law could be absorbed into the existing enforcement system with no need for additional staff or resources.”

The report finds evidence of ongoing discrimination against LGBT people in Alaska:

• In response to a 2011 survey of LGBT residents of Anchorage, 44% of respondents reported that they had been harassed by their employer or co-workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 16% reported that they were forced to leave their jobs due to harassment.  Additionally, 21% reported that they were not hired; 18% reported that they had been denied a promotion; and 15% reported that they had been fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

• Census data show that in Alaska, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 32% lower than men in different sex marriages.

• Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 77% of Alaska residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.

• Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Alaska have been documented in legislative testimony; these include reports from a former Marine, a public school employee, and a job center employee.

• Survey data show that, nationally, 21% of LGBT respondents report being treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotions.

Employer policies and public opinion indicate support for non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in Alaska:

• At least 17 of Alaska’s 25 largest employers have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and at least 11 of them also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Additionally, the Regents of the University of Alaska have adopted policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in University employment.

• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 79% of respondents from Alaska said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.

A statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would not be burdensome or costly to enforce:

• The law would result in approximately six additional complaints being filed each year in Alaska.

• The anticipated new complaints could most likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Findings from the Alaska report are consistent with national data.

Click here for the full report.