LOS ANGELES — Millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers remain vulnerable to employment discrimination absent further federal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, according to a new article by researchers at the Williams Institute published in the Loyola of Law Angeles Law Review.
"Our analysis shows that existing antidiscrimination law and corporate policies are an incomplete patchwork that leaves LGBT workers vulnerable on the job. A federal law, such as the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would fill the gaps and simplify the legal landscape for employees and employers alike," said the article's lead author, Jennifer Pizer, Legal Director and Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute.
While courts and administrative agencies have recognized greater protections for LGBT workers under federal law in recent years, these protections remain incomplete. At the state level, sexual orientation discrimination is banned in only 21 states, 16 of which also ban gender identity discrimination. While there has been a surge in the number of LGBT-inclusive corporate policies, these private policies do not provide the protections of a state or federal law with an external enforcement agency and a clear private right of action to seek redress in court.
"Well researched and documented patterns of discrimination highlight the need and potential impact of a federal ban on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination," said co-author Brad Sears, Williams Institute Executive Director and Roberta Conroy Sr. Scholar of Law.
LGBT people and their heterosexual coworkers consistently report having experienced or witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
37 percent of LG people have experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent had lost a job because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey
As recently as 2011, 90 percent of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, or had taken actions to avoid it, and 47 percent reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity.
Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can have a negative impact on the wages and mental and physical health of LGBT people.
The full study, entitled Evidence of Persistent and Pervasive Workplace Discrimination against LGBT People: The Need for Federal Legislation Prohibition Discrimination and Providing for Equal Employment Benefits, 45 Loyola L. Rev. 715 (Spring 2012), can be found at digitalcommons.lmu.edu/llr/vol45/iss3/3/.