More than 4% of the U.S. workforce identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Approximately 37,000 of these workers live in Utah. Utah does not have a statewide law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment.
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 Utah, and estimates the administrative impact of passing a law prohibiting employment discrimination based on these characteristics in Utah.
- In total, there are approximately 55,000 LGBT adults in Utah, including just over 37,000 who are part of the state’s workforce.
- In response to a 2010 survey of LGBT people in Utah, 43% of LGB respondents and 67% of transgender respondents reported being fired, denied a job, denied a promotion, or having experienced other forms of discrimination at some point in their lives. Even higher percentages of employees reported experiencing verbal harassment at work on at least a weekly basis.
- These figures are consistent with national-level data on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. 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 because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- As recently as 2010, 78% of respondents to the largest national 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.
- Several Utah workers have recently filed lawsuits or have spoken to the media about the discrimination they have faced because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These include reports from a deputy sheriff, a home inspection worker, and a bus driver.
- Disparities in wages are also a traditional way that discrimination has been measured. Census data show that in Utah, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 20% lower than men in different-sex marriages.
- At least 17 localities in Utah provide protection from sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination by local ordinance.
- Approximately 53% of Utah’s workforce is not covered by a local ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- In response to a 2010 survey of approximately 250 Utah employers, 35% of respondents indicated that they had adopted internal corporate policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s current non-discrimination law would result in approximately 17 additional complaints being filed with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division each year.
- Enforcing complaints of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination would likely have no impact or a negligible impact on the state budget. Estimates that include the highest possible figures indicate that the additional complaints could cost the state up to $14,500 annually; 0.9% of the annual budget of the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division.