LGBT Workers in Virginia Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Distribution
January 29, 2015

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

LOS ANGELES — LGBT workers in Virginia 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, three localities in Virginia have ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private sector employment, but approximately 94% of Virginia’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 Virginia have been documented in the media and lawsuits; these include reports from a police officer, a college volleyball coach, a museum employee, and an attorney.
• Census data show that in Virginia, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 10% lower than the median income of men in different sex marriages.
• Approximately 94% of Virginia’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance that prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in local government and private sector employment.
• Many universities and private sector employers in Virginia have implemented their own internal non-discrimination policies. Twenty-five of the 33 Fortune 1000 companies based in Virginia prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 17 of those companies also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
• Public opinion in Virginia supports the passage of legal protections for LGBT people. In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 81% of respondents from Virginia 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 5 additional complaints being filed each year with the Virginia Division of Human Rights.
• The anticipated new complaints could likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Findings from the Virginia report are consistent with national data.

For full report, click here.

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