88,400 LGBT Workers in Louisiana Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
Nov. 10, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 88,400 LGBT workers in Louisiana 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 87 percent of Louisiana’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 Louisiana:

• Seven localities in Louisiana provide some form of protection from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment by local ordinance or policy.

• Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 81 percent of Louisiana 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 Louisiana have been documented in media reports and lawsuits, including reports from bus drivers, a construction worker, a restaurant employee, a college professor, and an employee of a loan company.

• Census data show that in Louisiana, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 18 percent lower than that of men in different-sex marriages.

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

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

• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 74 percent of respondents from Louisiana 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 41 additional complaints being filed each year with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.

• 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 Louisiana report are consistent with national data.

Click here for the full report.