Report

Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Texas

May 2015
Report

Executive Summary

More than 4% of the American workforce identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Approximately 429,000 of these workers live in Texas. Texas does not have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in 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 Texas, and estimates the administrative impact of passing a law prohibiting employment discrimination based on these characteristics in the state.

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Key Findings

  • In total there are approximately 666,000 LGBT adults in Texas, including 429,000 who are part of Texas’s workforce.2
  • Media reports, lawsuits, academic studies, and complaints to community-based organizations document incidents of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination against employees in Texas. These include reports from teachers, a detective, an architect, and a bank 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 similar or higher levels of discrimination. For example, as recently as 2010, 79% of respondents from Texas to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work.
  • Census data show that in Texas, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 9% lower than the median income of men in different-sex marriages.
  • Four localities in Texas provide protection from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public and private sector employment by local ordinance. Seven additional localities protect their own local government workers or employees of local government contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Approximately 86% of Texas’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance that prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.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. At least 40 of the 51 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and at least 22 of them also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
  • Public opinion in Texas supports the passage of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 73% of those polled in Texas said that Congress should pass a federal law to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, other polls have found that 79% of Texas 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 202 additional complaints being filed with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division each year.
  • 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.

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Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Texas

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

This estimate was reached by applying the percentage of people in Texas that are LGBT (3.3%) to the population of Texas aged 16 years and older (20,168,039) and the number of people in the Texas civilian labor force (12,992,119), 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-northdakota.aspx; American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder, 2012 ACS Table DP03: Selected
Economic Characteristics, 1-Year Estimates, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_DP03&prodType=table.

13% of workers are protected under broad local ordinances that prohibit discrimination in both public and private sector employment; another 1% of local government workers are protected under ordinances that prohibit their local government employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Calculated by authors using data from the American Community Survey, 2011-2013 3-Year-Estimates & 2009-2011 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 Jan. 14, 2015). Some additional workers likely have protection from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under ordinances that prohibit discrimination in employment by local government contractors; however, it is not possible to determine the number of employees with such protections.