LGBT People File Employment Discrimination Complaints as Often as People of Color, Women, New Study Shows

For Immediate Distribution
Oct. 22, 2015

Lauren Jow,, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — LGBT people use sexual orientation and gender identity employment non-discrimination laws as frequently as people of color and women use race and sex non-discrimination laws, according to a new analysis of complaints filed with state enforcement agencies conducted by Christy Mallory, senior counsel, and Brad Sears, executive director, at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The filing rates are similar for all types of discrimination studied. Across the 14 states that provided complaint data, on average, approximately four to five employment discrimination complaints are filed annually for each 10,000 women, people of color and LGBT people in the workforce, the researchers found. The findings refute the argument that discrimination against LGBT people does not occur often enough to establish a need for protective laws.

“Because the LGBT population is relatively small, however, the raw number of sexual orientation and gender identity complaints filed is low,” Mallory said. “Therefore, passing non-discrimination laws that protect LGBT workers would not overwhelm state enforcement agencies and courts with complaints.”

The study, titled “Evidence of Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: An Analysis of Complaints Filed with State Enforcement Agencies,” examined complaints filed based on sexual orientation or gender identity, race, and sex and adjusted them by the number of people in the workforce most likely to experience each type of discrimination – LGBT people, people of color and women.

Key findings from the report include:

• Nationally, on average, 4.6 complaints of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are filed for every 10,000 LGBT workers each year.

• Race discrimination complaints are filed at a similar, but slightly higher, rate of  4.9 complaints for every 10,000 workers of color annually.

• Sex discrimination complaints are filed at a similar but slightly lower rate at 3.7 complaints for every 10,000 female workers annually.

Data on discrimination complaints were requested from the 22 states that have state-level laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Fourteen states responded to the request, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The study’s findings are consistent with those of two prior studies that applied the same methodology to older data.

Click here for the full report.