Approximately 62,000 LGBT Workers in Oklahoma Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
January 22, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 62,000 LGBT workers in Oklahoma 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 cities in Oklahoma have ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public sector employment, but do not include gender identity or private sector employment; approximately 99% of Oklahoma’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.”

Key findings from the report include:

• Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Oklahoma have been documented in the media and lawsuits; these include reports from a teacher, two police officers, and a librarian.
• Census data show that in Oklahoma, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 23% lower than the median income of men in different sex marriages.
• Approximately 99% of Oklahoma’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance that prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private sector employment. None of Oklahoma’s workforce is protected by a local ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.
• Several universities and private sector employers in Oklahoma have implemented their own internal policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Public opinion in Oklahoma supports the passage of legal protections for LGBT people. In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 68% of respondents from Oklahoma 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 29 additional complaints being filed each year with the Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Enforcement.
• The anticipated new complaints could likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Findings from the Oklahoma report are consistent with national data.

For full report, click here.