LGBT Employees Lack Crucial Protections

You may be surprised to learn that LGBT employees lack explicit federal protections against employment discrimination and face higher levels of harassment on the job. In fact, only 20 states plus Washington D.C. have laws that explicitly prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Click here to see a map of which states have updated their laws to ensure that LGBT are treated fairly at work.

The U.S. Supreme Court may soon hear a case featuring Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job R&G and G&R Harris Funeral Homes, after coming out as transgender. Last March, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Stephens and the EEOC finding that her firing at work was illegal under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex at work. The ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan are representing Aimee Stephens in this case.

Last week, MAP and the National LGBTQ Workers Center released a new brief LGBT People in the Workplace which details the history, demographics and experiences of LGBT people in the workplace. Click here to learn more.

Who are LGBT Workers?

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, the national holiday that commemorates the contributions of workers and the labor movement in the United States. Despite the holiday being more than 120 years old, there is still much to do to ensure that all people’s contributions at work are recognized and honored.

It’s shameful that most women—particularly women of color—still receive grossly unequal pay compared to men. For every $1 a man makes, women make 80 cents, but Black women make 63 cents, Native American women make 58 cents, and Latinas make only 54 cents for every $1 a man makes.

And, it may be shocking to realize that LGBT people go to work every day with few guarantees they will be hired and evaluated based on their contributions and not their sexual orientation or gender identity. What’s worse, most people aren’t aware of such inequalities: according to a 2013 survey, 69% of Americans believed that it was illegal to fire someone in the U.S. for being gay. But in reality, only 20 states and D.C. have laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Released today, LGBT People in the Workplace: Demographics, Experiences, and Pathways to Equity is an infographic report developed by MAP and the National LGBTQ Workers Center that summarizes the discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace. This visual primer explains the patchwork of legal protections available to LGBT people in the U.S., presents the demographic profiles of workers and the severe barriers they confront—in terms of hiring, firing, wages, and benefits—in the midst of an ever-changing economy.

Coauthored with the National LGBTQ Workers Center, this report includes the Center’s grassroots agenda for policy change, which deliberately focuses on LGBT people of color. Centered around worker-led advocacy efforts, the intersectional agenda seeks federal, state and local advocacy in order to create policy change for all LGBT people.

Establishing federal and state level LGBT protections is a pathway towards equality, but grassroots campaigns that are led by workers and prioritize workers’ rights can accelerate policy change. This report emphasizes that the marginalized experiences of transgender workers and workers of color must be prioritized if our goal is to completely eradicate discrimination against all LGBT people in the workplace and beyond.