55,000 LGBT Workers in Kansas Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
Sept. 29, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 55,000 LGBT workers in Kansas 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. Only 4 percent of Kansas’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,” said Christy Mallory, senior counsel at the Williams Institute. “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 Kansas:

• In response to a 2004 survey of LGBT residents of Topeka, 16 percent of respondents said they were denied employment, 15 percent said they were fired, and 11 percent said they were denied a promotion because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Further, 41 percent of respondents said they had been verbally or physically abused at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

• Census data show that in Kansas, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 31 percent lower than that of men in different-sex marriages.

• Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 79 percent of Kansas 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 Kansas have been documented in media reports and complaints to community-based organizations, including reports from public and private sector workers.

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

• At least at least seven large private sector employers headquartered in Kansas prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and at least four of those companies also prohibit gender identity discrimination.

• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 68 percent of respondents from Kansas said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.

Findings from the Kansas report are consistent with national data.

Click here for the full report.