LOS ANGELES, CA — February 16, 2012 — Local ordinances that require city and county contractors to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination protect thousands of workers without burdening governments or businesses, according to a new study from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute.
The study comes at the same time as a push for President Obama to sign an executive order that would require all federal contractors to "extend non-discrimination and harassment protections for their LGBT employees. The order would cover about 16 million workers who don't currently receive any discrimination or harassment protections for sexual orientation or gender identity," according to a Change.org petition campaign.
"This study provides evidence that a federal executive order that similarly barred discrimination could protect millions of workers while not overburdening federal contractors or the U.S. government," said the study's co-author, Christy Mallory, Legal Fellow, Williams Institute.
Currently, only 21 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation or gender identity in their statewide non-discrimination laws, and no federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the private sector. A federal executive order that prohibited such discrimination could protect up to 16.5 million workers.
The local governments in the study reported widespread compliance among contractors and very little, if any, resistance to adopting LGBT-related employment policies. Further, no locality reported that any employees had filed complaints of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination after the policies were implemented.
"Their responses indicate businesses were willing to adopt these policies in order to contract with cities like Raleigh and Indianapolis," said Mallory. She continued, "This demonstrates that contractors accept the possibility of government enforcement, even when no state law imposes similar requirements."
The survey responses also indicate that the laws are not burdensome or costly for the agencies to implement and enforce. No locality reported that it had to hire additional staff to enforce these ordinances, or that there was any cost associated in adding sexual orientation and gender identity to existing non-discrimination policies and practices.
"Our analysis shows that concerns about these laws have not been born out," said Brad Sears, Roberta A. Conroy Senior Scholar of Law & Policy and Williams Institute Executive Director, "the agencies reported no disruption to the contracting process as a result of passing these ordinancesfor themselves or their contractors. In short, its business as usual after a locality has decided to add these protections for LGBT people."
The study evaluated data from 29 city and county government agencies that require local government contractors to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity employment non-discrimination policies. Some cities and counties also require local government contractors to take further steps to protect LGBT workers, such as posting inclusive Equal Employment opportunity policies, training managers and employees to prevent harassment and discrimination, and including the LGBT community in outreach and recruitment efforts.
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The Williams Institute advances sexual orientation law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance. For more information go to: http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/home.html