About 55,000 LGBT People in Utah Would Be Protected from Discrimination under New Bill

For Immediate Distribution
March 4, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — About 55,000 LGBT Utahns, including 37,000 LGBT workers, would be protected under a new bill introduced today prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing. Leaders from both houses of the state legislature support the bill. Recently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called on legislators in Utah to pass a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in the state.

Research by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law shows that many LGBT people in Utah have faced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In response to a 2010 survey of LGBT people in Utah, 43% of LGB respondents and 67% of transgender respondents reported being fired, denied a job, denied a promotion, or having experienced other forms of discrimination at some point in their lives. Even higher percentages of employees reported experiencing verbal harassment at work on at least a weekly basis.

While a number of localities in Utah prohibit employment discrimination against LGBT people, around 50% of the workforce remains unprotected by local ordinances. Moreover, Williams Institute analyses show that in almost every case, these local ordinances do not provide the protections or the remedies that would be offered by the new state law.

The Williams Institute estimates that if passed, the bill would result in 17 additional employment discrimination complaints being filed with the Utah Antidiscrimination & Labor Division each year. Earlier Williams Institute research has shown that filing rates for sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are similar to those based on race and gender.

“Despite the persistence and pervasiveness of employment discrimination against LGBT people, studies show that enforcing sexual orientation and gender identity provisions in non-discrimination laws has only a minimal burden on state agencies, residents or businesses,” said Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel at the Williams Institute, who co-authored a report on employment discrimination against LGBT workers in the state.

Click here for more Williams Institute research about employment discrimination against LGBT people in Utah.