About 8,900 LGBT Workers in Wyoming Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
March 24, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — About 8,900 LGBT workers in Wyoming are vulnerable to employment discrimination absent explicit statewide legal protections, according to a new report co-authored by Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel, and Brad Sears, Executive Director, at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. Wyoming is one of eleven states with no local-level ordinances prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in private sector employment, and less than 1% of Wyoming’s workforce is protected by a local policy prohibiting such discrimination in public sector employment.

“A statewide law prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would bring new protections to thousands of workers without burdening courts and agencies,” Mallory said. “Most likely, the cost of handling complaints filed under the law could be absorbed into the existing enforcement system with no need for additional staff or resources.”

The report finds evidence of ongoing discrimination against LGBT people in Wyoming:

– A 2006 survey of 87 LGB people in Wyoming found that of respondents who were “out” about their sexual orientation to their co-workers, 29% reported that they were discriminated against in employment opportunities, and 20% believed that their sexual orientation or gender identity was a factor in the termination of their employment from an existing position.

– Polls have found that 78% of Wyoming residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.

– Census data show that in Wyoming, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 16% lower than men in different sex marriages.

– Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Wyoming have been documented in the media and lawsuits; these include reports from a school administrators and a state government employee.

– Survey data show that, nationally, 21% of LGBT respondents report being treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotions. Among transgender survey respondents, 78% report having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work.

Employer policies and public opinion indicate support for non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in Wyoming:

– None of Wyoming’s workforce is covered by a local ordinance that prohibits discrimination in private sector employment. Less than 1% of Wyoming’s workforce is covered by Jackson Hole’s policy prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in local government employment.

– At least four of the large private sector employers based in Wyoming prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and the University of Wyoming prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

– In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 69% of respondents from Wyoming said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.

A statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would not be burdensome or costly to enforce:

– The law would result in approximately four additional complaints being filed each year with the Wyoming Labor Standards Office.

– The anticipated new complaints could most likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Findings from the Wyoming report are consistent with national data.

For full report, click here.

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