LGBT, ENDA And Discrimination In The Workplace

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is pending in Congress again this session. The act, if passed, would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The legislation has been proposed numerous times, but has never gained sufficient support in Congress or with the media. The reasons are complex.

Higher Priorities

Same-sex marriage has been the hot button issue, as various states wrestle with different permutations of the issue. Don’t ask Don’t Tell, likewise, has a great deal of exposure in the national media.

Both of these issues have been high profile, in part, due to the strongly symbolic nature of marriage and military service.

Also, some states, like Minnesota already prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, lessening the need in those states for a national standard.

While the symbolic nature of marriage and military service cannot be overlooked, not everyone in the LGBT community wants to join the military or even be married.

Nevertheless, virtually everyone has to work for a living. And for the LGBT community, discrimination in the workplace is still a serious problem across the nation.

A recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found:

  • In 2008, a survey found that of LGB respondents, 27% had experienced workplace harassment and 7% had lost a job.
  • 38% LGB people who are open about their sexual orientation in the workplace, experienced at least one form of discrimination during the five years prior to the survey.
  • 30% of LGB respondents reported that they were not out to anyone at work, and only 25% were out to all of their co-workers.

The study found that for the transgender members of GBLT community, the situation is even worse:

  • 78% of respondents from a 2011 survey of transgender people reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity; more specifically, 47% had been discriminated against in hiring, promotion or job retention.
  • 70% of transgender respondents to a 2009 California survey and 67% of transgender respondents to a 2010 Utah survey reported experiencing employment discrimination because of their gender identity.

In Minnesota, workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation is illegal. If you feel you have been subjected to discrimination, consulting with a employment discrimination attorney can help you determine your legal options.

Because it is important to properly document any discriminatory conduct, speaking with an attorney early is helpful. They can advise you what information is important to preserve and how you should act in response to discriminatory behavior.