Evidence of Persistent and Pervasive Workplace Discrimination Against LGBT People: The Need for Federal Legislation Prohibiting Discrimination and Providing for Equal Employment Benefits

By Jennifer Pizer, Christy Mallory, Brad Sears, Nan Hunter
June 2012

Millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers remain vulnerable to employment discrimination absent further federal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. While courts and administrative agencies have recognized greater protections for LGBT workers under federal law in recent years, these protections remain incomplete.  At the state level, sexual orientation discrimination is banned in only 21 states, 16 of which also ban gender identity discrimination. While there has been a surge in the number of LGBT-inclusive corporate policies, these private policies do not provide the protections of a state or federal law with an external enforcement agency and a clear private right of action to seek redress in court. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can also have a negative impact on the wages and mental and physical health of LGBT people.

Research shows:

* LGBT people and their heterosexual coworkers consistently report having experienced or witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
* 37 percent of LG people have experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent had lost a job because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey
* As recently as 2011, 90 percent of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, or had taken actions to avoid it, and 47 percent reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity.

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* Article published in the Loyola Law Review. For more information, visit http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/llr/vol45/iss3/3