Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Ohio

January 2014

Ohio’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 Ohio’s existing law would provide protections to LGBT people and would not be costly or burdensome for the state to enforce.

Discrimination against LGBT people in Ohio has been documented in surveys, court cases, reports to community-based organizations, and the media.
Some local governments and private employers in Ohio have adopted non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, but coverage is incomplete.
Public opinion in Ohio supports the passage of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
Data Points
LGBT people aged 16+ are in Ohio’s workforce

Executive Summary

More than four percent of the American workforce identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Approximately 212,000 of these workers live in Ohio. Ohio does not have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment.1

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

Key Findings

  • In total there are approximately 328,000 LGBT adults in Ohio,2 including over 212,000 who are part of the Ohio workforce.
  • Recent surveys from Ohio reflect discrimination and negative attitudes toward LGBT people in the workplace. For example, a 2008 survey at Miami University Ohio found that nonheterosexual-identified faculty reported discrimination at twice the rate of their heterosexually-identified counterparts. Disparities were also reported among feelings of safety and acceptance between gay and straight students and staff.
  • Despite the state’s lack of legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a 2013 opinion survey found that 68% of Ohioans supported such laws and 84% believed that they were already in place.
  • National surveys also confirm that discrimination against LGBT workers persists. Most recently, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that 21% of LGBT respondents had been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotions.
  • As recently as 2010, 78% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, and 47% reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity.
  • Lawsuits document that a number of Ohio employees have faced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; these include reports from a teacher, a bus driver, and a county child services employee.
  • Disparities in wages are also a traditional way that discrimination has been measured. Census data show that in Ohio, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 24% lower than men in different-sex marriages.
  • Currently, 13 localities in Ohio provide protection from sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination by local ordinance. An additional 14 localities provide protections for government workers alone.
  • Approximately 81% of Ohio’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance that prohibits private employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Even Ohioans who live in localities with such local ordinances are not always as protected as they would be by state law. Some localities offer more extensive protection or stronger remedies than others. Moreover, unlike many local ordinances, Ohio state law provides for a private right of action.
  • Many of the state’s top employers have internal corporate policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, including 37 Fortune 1000 companies.
  • Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s current non-discrimination law would result in approximately 100 additional complaints being filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission each year.
  • Estimates indicate that the additional complaints could cost up to $214,500 annually; which represents 2.8% of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s budget in the fiscal year 2012.

Download the full report

Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Ohio

The Ohio Fair Employment Practices Law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age and ancestry. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4112.02 (West 2013).

This estimate was reached by applying the percentage of people in Ohio that are LGBT (3.6%) to the population of Ohio aged 16 years and older (9,110,226). Gary J. Gates & Frank Newport, LGBT Percentage Highest in D.C., Lowest in North Dakota, Gallup, Feb. 15,2013,; American Community Survey, 2011 ACS Table DP03: Selected Economic Characteristics, 5-Year Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder, available at