Category Archives: Discrimination

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Employment Discrimination: Overview of State Statutes and Complaint Data

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-10-135R, October 1, 2009

From the summary:
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have statutes prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation. Twelve states and the District of Columbia also have statutes prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity. GAO reviewed these state statutes and provided information on their characteristics, coverage and exclusions. GAO also reported the number of administrative employment discrimination complaints filed in each state as reported by the states-both the total number of complaints and the number of complaints listing sexual orientation or gender identity as one of the claimed bases for discrimination.

Annual Report on the Federal Work Force: Fiscal Year 2008

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, September 2009

From the press release:
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released the Annual Report on the Federal Work Force for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, which shows small increases in discrimination complaint filings against federal agencies and in average complaint processing time government-wide.

The annual report informs and advises the President and the Congress on the state of equal employment opportunity (EEO) throughout the federal government. Data in the report, available online at, are presented both in individual agency profiles and in government-wide aggregate form.

According to the comprehensive report, 16,752 complaints alleging employment discrimination were filed against the federal government in FY 2008 – up 2.4 percent from the prior year. EEO complaints were filed against agencies on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability and reprisal. Pre-complaint counseling and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs addressed many employee concerns before they resulted in formal EEO complaints. Of the 38,898 instances of counseling in FY 2008, more than half did not result in a formal complaint being filed.

Agencies completed a total of 11,157 EEO complaint investigations in FY 2008 with an average processing time of 180 days, an increase of four days from FY 2007. Of the 7,538 cases closed on the merits, 2.5% resulted in findings of unlawful discrimination. In addition, the parties entered into settlements in 3,249 complaints, or 19.5% of the total complaint closures. Agencies paid out a total of over $50 million in monetary benefits to complainants (including appellate decisions).

Degrees of Equality: A National Study Examining Workplace Climate for LGBT Employees

Source: Human Rights Campaign, 2009

From the summary:
A majority – 51 percent – of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers continue to hide their identity from most or all co-workers, according to a new report released today from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that examines the real-life experiences of LGBT workers. The report, “Degrees of Equality: A National Study Examining Workplace Climate for LGBT Employees,” found that, despite significant advances in employment policies at major U.S. corporations, a majority of LGBT workers continue to experience a range of negative consequences because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Younger workers are even more likely to hide their LGBT identity – only 5 percent of LGBT employees ages 18 to 24 say they are totally open at work, compared to more than 20 percent in older age cohorts.

Study Shows Persistent Pattern of Discrimination Against Gay and Lesbian Employees by State and Local Governments

Source: Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy, Press Release, September 23, 2009

Unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation occurs with the same high frequency in state and local governments as in the private sector, Brad Sears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute, told a congressional panel today.

Sears presented the findings during a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, which would prohibit job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. Workplace discrimination on those bases is now legal in a majority of states.

The finds come from a year-long study of workplace issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals across the country. The study – the most comprehensive review of discrimination against LGBT people in the public sector – examined employment surveys, administrative and legal complaints, wage records, and other publications to evaluate the extent and persistence of LGBT discrimination.
See also:
Appendices- 50 State Reports

Shared Perceptions Among Lesbian and Gay Police Officers – Barriers and Opportunities in the Law Enforcement Work Environment

Source: Roddrick Colvin, Police Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Building on existing race- and sex-based research into the law enforcement workplace, this study examines differential treatment of lesbian and gay officers. A survey of 66 police officers revealed that lesbian and gay officers not only face barriers to equal employment opportunities similar to those faced by women and other minorities in law enforcement but also perceive some workplace benefits as lesbian or gay officers. The research suggests that police departments have made good strides in opening the law enforcement workforce but continue to face ongoing challenges in creating fair, diverse, and representative work environments for lesbian and gay officers. Policy implications as well as the organizational effects of both barriers and opportunities identified are discussed.

Local and State Government Workers Need Protection Too

Source: Anna Mumford, Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union, August 17, 2009

If you’ve ever laid awake at night worrying that you might lose your job because you’re LGBT, rest assured your fear is real.

Only 21 states have employment non-discrimination laws that protect against sexual orientation discrimination, and only 12 states protect against gender identity discrimination. So in a majority of states, it’s completely legal for your boss to fire you because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. There’s nothing stopping a potential employer from refusing you a job because you’re LGBT, and because federal non-discrimination law doesn’t cover sexual orientation or gender identity, you have no legal recourse to confront anti-gay or anti-trans harassment on the job.

See the full discrimination laws map here.

The Market Defense

Source: Sharon Rabin-Margalioth, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah – Radzyner School of Law, working draft, July 29, 2009

From the abstract:
Too often women encounter the argument that pay disparity is the outcome of market forces and not sex discrimination. Salary differentials are attributed to individual pay demands, bargaining effectiveness, external counteroffers and/or prior salaries. These are just a few examples of market justifications employers raise to explain why similar workers performing the same job are compensated differently.

This paper argues that, in most cases, market justifications for pay disparity in equal pay for equal work litigation should be rejected. The paper then takes on the more ambitious project of proposing an alternative model of gender discrimination, which is not restricted to causation.

Protecting Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Workers: Strategies for Bringing Employment Claims on Behalf of Members of the LGBT Community in the Absence of Clear Statutory Protections

Source: Katie R. Eyer, ACS White Paper, July 30, 2006

From the abstract:
In the absence of an explicit federal statute and in the many states that do not yet have statutes that protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can be at risk for unfair treatment on the job. In ‘Protecting Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Workers: Strategies for Bringing Employment Claims on Behalf of Members of the LGBT Community in the Absence of Clear Statutory Protections,’ Katie Eyer outlines several strategies – such as citing anti-discrimination protections for sex, religion or disability discrimination, relying on local ordinances and bringing common law claims – that may be used to remedy discrimination in states where explicit protections for sexual and/or gender minorities do not yet exist.

Unequal Unemployment – Racial disparities in unemployment vary widely by state

Source: Algernon Austin, Economic Policy Institute, EPI Issue Brief #257, July 21, 2009

From the summary:
The labor market crisis is breaking national records each month, with no end in sight. The heaviest burden is falling on blacks and Hispanics, who are contending with much higher unemployment rates than whites nationally–about one-and-a-half times as high for Hispanics and twice as high for blacks. According to an updated analysis through the second quarter of 2009 and new projections through 2010, the trend has worsened and is likely to continue to do so.
See also:
State Unemployment Trends by Race, Ethnicity and Gender

We’ve Heard this Before: The Legacy of Interracial Marriage Bans and the Implications for Today’s Marriage Equality Debates

Source: Gregory N. Johnson, Vermont Law School Research Paper No. 09-18, 2009

From the abstract:
This article examines the many cases upholding bans on interracial marriage prior to 1948, the year the California Supreme Court became the first high court to strike down such a ban. The arguments courts made in defense of the ban on interracial marriage are strikingly similar to arguments made today against same-sex marriage. These include arguments based on religion and natural law, procreation, concern for the children, deference to the legislature, and the slippery-slope argument. The thesis of this article is that, given the commonality in arguments, the earlier struggle for marriage equality by interracial couples is relevant to today’s debate on same-sex marriage. The ultimate rejection of the arguments against interracial marriage speaks to the long-term viability of the same arguments in the same-sex marriage debate.