429,000 LGBT Workers in Texas Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
May 7, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 429,000 LGBT workers in Texas 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.  Currently, four localities in Texas prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment, and seven localities protect local government workers or employees of local government contractors from such discrimination. Approximately 86% of Texas’ workforce, however, is not covered by these laws.

“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 Texas:

• In response to a national 2010 survey, 79% of transgender people from Texas reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, and 45% reported that they were not hired, 26% reported that they were fired, and 22% reported being denied a promotion because of their gender identity or expression.

• Census data show that in Texas, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 9% lower than men in different sex marriages.

• Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 79% of Texas 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 Texas have been documented in the media and lawsuits; these include reports from teachers, a detective, an architect, and a bank 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 Texas:

• At least 40 of the 51 Fortune 500 companies based in Texas have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and at least 22 of them also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 73% of respondents from Texas 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 202 additional complaints being filed each year with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division.

• 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 Texas report are consistent with national data.

Click here for the full report.