Approximately 47,000 LGBT Workers in Arkansas Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
January 20, 2015

Contact:
Laura Rodriguez, lrodriguez@rabengroup.com, (310) 956-2425
Donald Gatlin, dgatlin@rabengroup.com, (202) 587-2871

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 47,000 LGBT workers in Arkansas 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. Currently, no localities in Arkansas have an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private 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.”

Key findings from the report include:

• In response to a 2014 survey of nearly 1,000 LGBT people from Arkansas, 25% of respondents reported experiencing employment discrimination and 37% reported experiencing harassment at work.
• Census data show that in Arkansas, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 24% lower than the median income of men in different sex marriages.
• None of Arkansas’s workforce is covered by a local law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public and private sector employment. One locality in Arkansas, Fayetteville, had an ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment; however, it was repealed in December, 2014.
• Some universities and private sector employers in Arkansas have implemented their own internal nondiscrimination policies. Five of the six Fortune 500 companies based in Arkansas have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and three of those companies also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
• Public opinion in Arkansas supports the passage of legal protections for LGBT people. In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 71% of respondents from Arkansas said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.
• A statewide non-discrimination law would result in approximately 22 additional complaints being filed each year under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act.
• The anticipated new complaints could likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Findings from the Arkansas report are consistent with national data.

For full report, click here.