New Study by the Williams Institute: Proposed Legislation Would Protect Over 400,000 LGBT Workers from Discrimination Complaints

Press Release
For Immediate Distribution

December 19, 2012

Contact:
M.V. Lee Badgett, badgett@law.ucla.edu, (801) 581-7352
Christy Mallory, mallory@law.ucla.edu, (310) 794-9469
Laura Rodriguez, lrodriguez@rabengroup.com, (213) 236-3750

Enforcing workplace protections would have a significant and positive impact for Texas LGBT workers, minimal impact on state agencies and the state budget

LOS ANGELES – A new Williams Institute report finds that adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Texas’s employment non-discrimination law would protect an estimated 431,095 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Texans from employment discrimination, and would have only a minimal impact on state agencies and the state budget.

HR 238, a bill that would add the two characteristics to Texas’s employment non-discrimination law, was introduced on December 3.    Reports show discrimination against LGBT people is common across the U.S.  For example, 37% of gay and lesbian respondents to the 2008 General Social Survey had experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12% had lost a job because of their sexual orientation.  As recently as 2010, 78% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work.  The Williams Institute has undertaken a significant body of research regarding the experiences of LGBT employees in the workplace.  This research consistently shows that LGBT people continue to face high rates of discrimination in the workplace and that state and federal protections could consequently have a significant and positive impact for LGBT workers without overly burdening employers.

“Data from other states show that the LGBT population files discrimination complaints at a rate similar to other protected groups, such as, women and people of color filing on the basis of sex or race,” explains co-author Christy Mallory, Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law & Policy. “However, the absolute number of complaints we expect to see from LGBT people is very low, because the LGBT population is small compared to other protected populations.”

The report estimates that adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s existing law would result in an increase of only 203 additional administrative complaints per year.

“We expect that enforcing these additional complaints will only cost the state approximately $300,000 in the first year; and the expenses will drop in the following years,” said co-author M.V. Lee Badgett, Williams Institute Research Director. “Although there is some administrative cost associated with enforcing these laws, they can also have positive effects on businesses and the state.”  Research has shown that non-discrimination laws can help states attract talented employees, and can boost productivity and satisfaction in the workplace.

Click here for the full report.