16,000 Missourians Would Benefit From Expanded State Non-Discrimination Law

For Immediate Distribution
November 12, 2013

Laura Rodriguez, lrodriguez@rabengroup.com, (310) 956-2425
Donald Gatlin, dgatlin@rabengroup.com, (202) 821-7923

73 percent of workforce not covered by inconsistent patchwork of local ordinances

LOS ANGELES— 160,000 LGBT adults in Missouri would benefit from an expanded state non-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a new Williams Institute study co-authored by Amira Hasenbush, Jim Kepner Law and Policy Fellow, at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, Sarah Liebowitz, Research Associate, and former Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law and Policy, Christy Mallory. There is currently no Missouri law protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

“This study shows that there is substantial evidence of discrimination against LGBT people in Missouri,” said Hasenbush. “A uniform state-wide law would maximize protection for Missouri’s LGBT population, and provide them the same recourse available to their non-LGBT counterparts.”

Media reports and lawsuits document that a number of Missourians have faced discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace because they are LGBT.  Complaints have been filed against hotels, landlords and retail stores; and teachers, law enforcement, truck drivers, and attorneys have filed workplace discrimination complaints.

Further, disparities in wages are a traditional way that employment discrimination has been measured, and according to Census data, the median income of Missouri men in same-sex couples is 23 percent lower than men in different sex marriages, even as many top employers in the state have internal policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination.

A 2006 survey of LGBT people in Kansas City found that in the previous three years, 13.0 percent of respondents reported experiencing an LGBT-related hate crime, 14.1 percent reported experiencing workplace discrimination, and 2.0 percent reported experiencing housing discrimination. In 2009, a University of Missouri Campus Climate survey found that 35 percent of LGBQ respondents and 57 percent of transgender respondents reported experiences of harassment on campus.

Eighteen Missouri localities currently provide protection from sexual orientation discrimination by local ordinance, sixteen of which also provide protection against gender identity discrimination, but the ordinances are inconsistent, and less effective than a state-wide law would be. In many cases, the local ordinances do not fully cover public and private employment, housing, public accommodations, and government services, and Missouri state law provides stronger remedies, and a private right of action that many of the local ordinances do not provide.

Additionally, approximately 73 percent of the state’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation; 74 percent is not covered by an ordinance that prohibits gender identity discrimination.

If the law were amended, an estimated 47 complaints of sexual orientation or gender identity employment discrimination would be filed in Missouri annually. The cost of enforcing the additional complaints would be negligible. At most, it would cost the state approximately $39,900 annually; which represents only 2.5 percent of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights’ current annual budget.

“Many Missouri employers have already decided that inclusive LGBT workplace policies are good for business,” said co-author Christy Mallory. At least 52 companies headquartered in Missouri prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including 8 Fortune 500 companies: Ameren, Charter Communications, Emerson Electric, Express Scripts, Graybar Electric Company, Monsanto, Peabody Energy, and Reinsurance Group of America.

Click here for the full study.

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