Report

Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Michigan

February 2015

Michigan’s employment non-discrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving LGBT people in the state vulnerable to discrimination. Adding these characteristics to Michigan’s existing law would provide protections to LGBT people and would not be costly or burdensome for the state to enforce.

Highlights
Discrimination against LGBT people in Michigan has been documented in surveys, court cases, reports to community-based organizations, and the media.
Some local governments and private employers in Michigan have adopted non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, but coverage is incomplete.
Public opinion in Michigan supports the passage of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
Data Points
184,000
LGBT people aged 16+ are in Michigan’s workforce
80%
of Michigan residents think that LGBT people experience discrimination in the state
16%
of Michigan's workforce is protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Report

Executive Summary

More than 4% of the American workforce identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Approximately 184,000 of these workers live in Michigan. Michigan does not have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in both public and private sector employment.

This report summarizes recent evidence of sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination, explains the limited current protections from sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination in Michigan, and estimates the administrative impact of passing a law prohibiting employment discrimination based on these characteristics in the state.

1

Key Findings

  • In total there are approximately 300,000 LGBT adults in Michigan, including nearly 184,000 who are part of Michigan’s workforce.2
  • Media reports, lawsuits, and complaints to community-based organizations document incidents of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination against employees in Michigan. These include reports from a CEO, a nursing assistant, and a local government employee.
  • Survey data indicate that discrimination against LGBT workers is prevalent across the country. Most recently, a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found that 21%of LGBT respondents had been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotions.
  • When transgender people are surveyed separately, they report even higher levels of discrimination. For example, 84% of transgender respondents from Michigan to a 2010 national survey reported experiencing discrimination or harassment at work.
  • Census data show that in Michigan, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 32% lower than men in different-sex marriages.
  • Two executive directives in Michigan provide protection from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for state government employees.
  • At least thirty-three municipalities in Michigan provide protection from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment by local ordinance. Even in those localities that have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the scope of those protections varies from place to place.
  • Approximately 84% of Michigan’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance that prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public and private employment.3
  • Private companies may adopt internal non-discrimination policies to improve recruitment and retention of talented employees, to increase employee productivity and customer satisfaction, or to attract a larger customer base. Twenty-one Fortune 1000 companies based in Michigan prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, and 12 Fortune 1000 companies based in Michigan also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
  • Public opinion in Michigan supports the passage of legal protections from workplace discrimination for LGBT people. In response to a 2011 survey, 65% of respondents said that they would favor the legislature adding sexual orientation and gender identity to state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and access to public accommodations. In addition, other polls find that 80% of Michigan residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.
  • Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s current non-discrimination law would result in approximately 86 additional complaints being filed with the Michigan Civil Rights Division each year.
  • Because the number of complaints filed annually has fluctuated by an average of 224 complaints over the past five years, with no corresponding variation in the Department’s budget, the anticipated new complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity could likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Download the full report

Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Michigan

Findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, Michigan Results, National Center for Trangender Gay and Lesbian Task Force, http://www.endtransdiscrimination.org/PDFs/ntds_state_mi.pdf.

These estimates were reached by applying the percentage of people in Michigan that are LGBT (3.8%) to the population of Michigan aged 16 years and older (7,897,753) and the number of people in the Michigan civilian labor force (4,829,177), respectively. Gary J. Gates & Frank Newport, LGBT Percentage Highest in D.C., Lowest in North Dakota, Gallup, Feb. 15, 2013, http://www.gallup.com/poll/160517/lgbt-percentage-highest-lowest-north-dakota.aspx; American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, 2012 ACS Table DP03: Selected Economic Characteristics, 1-Year Estimates, available at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_5YR_DP03.

Calculated by authors using data from the American Community Survey, 2010-2012 3-Year-Estimates & 2008-2012 5-Year-Estimates, Select Economic Characteristics tables (civilian labor force numbers) available at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml (last visited July 30, 2014). The actual percentage of the covered workforce is likely slightly higher than 16%. Workforce data for the following localities were not available, so the percentage of the state’s workforce in these localities (which do prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination) is not included in the calculation: Delhi Township, Delta Charter Township, Meridian Township, Oshtemo Township, and Union Township.