6,800 LGBT Workers in North Dakota Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
Dec. 8, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 6,800 LGBT workers in North Dakota 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. Approximately 99 percent of North Dakota’s workforce is not 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 North Dakota:

• No localities in North Dakota provide prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in private-sector employment. Two localities protect city employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and one of those localities also includes gender identity.

• Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 78 percent of North Dakota 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 North Dakota have been documented in legislative testimony, the media and in reports to community-based organizations, including reports from public school teachers, a convenience store clerk, an applicant for a job at a bank, a hospital employee and an employee of a manufacturing company.

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

• At least at least five large companies headquartered in North Dakota prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and two of those companies also prohibit gender identity discrimination.

• All of the state universities in the North Dakota University System prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and at least three of those universities also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 69 percent of respondents from North Dakota 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 three additional complaints being filed each year with the North Dakota Human Rights Division or in court.

• 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 North Dakota report are consistent with national data.

Click here for the full report.