Approximately 184,000 LGBT Workers in Michigan Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
February 10, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 184,000 LGBT workers in Michigan 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, 33 municipalities in Michigan have ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment, but approximately 84% of Michigan’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 Michigan:

• In a 2010 survey, 84% of transgender people in Michigan reported experiencing discrimination or harassment at work, 34% reported losing a job, 23% reported being denied a promotion, and 44% reported not being hired.
• In a 2012 survey, 55% of LGBT people and LGBT allies in Michigan reported experiencing discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation, and 19% reported experiencing discrimination or harassment based on their gender expression.
• Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Michigan have been documented in the media, lawsuits, and complaints to community-based organizations; these include reports from a CEO, a nursing assistant, and a local government employee.
• Census data show that in Michigan, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 32% lower than the median income of men in different-sex marriages.
• Public opinion polls have found that 80% of Michigan residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.

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

• The state prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment by executive directive.
• Twenty-one Fortune 1000 companies based in Michigan prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 12 of those companies also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
• In response to a 2011 poll in Michigan, 65% of respondents said that they would favor the legislature adding sexual orientation and gender identity to state non-discrimination laws.

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

• A statewide non-discrimination law would result in approximately 86 additional complaints being filed each year with the Michigan Civil Rights Division.
• The anticipated new complaints could likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Findings from the Michigan report are consistent with national data.

For full report, click here.

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