Approximately 80,000 LGBT Workers in Kentucky Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
February 25, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 80,000 LGBT workers in Kentucky 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, seven localities in Kentucky have ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment, but approximately 77% of Kentucky’s workforce is not covered by these laws.

“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 Kentucky:

• Public opinion polls have found that 78% of Kentucky residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.
• Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Kentucky have been documented in the media and lawsuits; these include reports from a children’s day care center worker, a state government employee, and a public school administrator.
• 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 Kentucky:

• The state prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment by executive order.
• All eight of the Fortune 1000 companies based in Kentucky prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, while five of those companies also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
• In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 70% of respondents from Kentucky 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 38 additional complaints being filed each year with the Kentucky Human Rights Commission.
• 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 Kentucky report are consistent with national data.

For full report, click here.