34,800 LGBT Workers are Vulnerable to Ongoing Employment Discrimination in Mississippi

For Immediate Distribution
Sept. 17, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 34,800 LGBT workers in Mississippi are vulnerable to employment discrimination, 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. No state or local laws in Mississippi prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and federal law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on these characteristics.

“Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Mississippi’s law that prohibits discrimination against state government workers would extend protections to 102,000 public sector employees in the state,” said Christy Mallory, senior counsel at the Williams Institute. “Research suggests that several thousand of these employees likely identify as LGBT.”

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

• In response to a 2014 survey of LGBT people in Mississippi, 24 percent of respondents said they had experienced workplace discrimination and 38 percent said they had been harassed at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

• No localities in Mississippi have ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in private sector employment. At least seven localities, however, have passed city council resolutions supporting non-discrimination against LGBT citizens.

• Census data show that in Mississippi, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 35 percent lower than that of men in different-sex marriages.

• Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 81 percent of Mississippi 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 Mississippi have been documented in media reports and lawsuits, including reports from a juvenile corrections officer, a restaurant manager and an employee of a loan company.

• Survey data show that, nationally, 21 percent 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 Mississippi:

• Many of Mississippi’s largest private sector employers, including Nissan, Toyota, RPM Pizza and Harrah’s Casino, have adopted internal policies prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 75 percent of respondents from Mississippi said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.

Findings from the Mississippi report are consistent with national data.

Click here for the full report.