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9 Reasons LGBTQ Workers Need Federal Protections

“Fired for being gay” is just the tip of the iceberg.

BY Alex Schwartz

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LGBTQ-identifying individuals who aren’t fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity may still face other types of discrimination at work.

Currently, there’s no federal law that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination at work. But this April, the Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases involving people who claim they were fired for being LGBTQ. Arguments are set to begin during the fall of this year, and decisions will likely be made next summer. The Court will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, also includes gender identity and sexual orientation. If the plaintiffs win their cases, it could become illegal in all states to fire someone for identifying as LGBTQ.

But LGBTQ-identifying individuals who aren’t fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity may still face other types of discrimination at work. These nine statistics show just how far we still have to go to make workplaces accepting and supportive for LGBTQ folks.

  • 46% - LGBTQ people who were closeted at work in the U.S. in 2018
  • 22% - LGBTQ people who had experienced discrimination in pay or in consideration for a promotion
  • 20% - LGBTQ people who had felt pressured by coworkers to dress more feminine or masculine
  • 53% - LGBTQ people who had heard jokes about lesbian or gay people on the job
  • 10% - LGBTQ people who had left a job because the workplace was not accepting of them
  • 32% - LGBTQ people of color who had experienced discrimination when applying for jobs as of 2017
  • 73 - Countries that protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation (the U.S. is not among them) 
  • 26 - U.S. states that allow private employers to fire someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • 3 - States that explicitly ban local governments from passing nondiscrimination provisions: Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina

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Alex Schwartz is a 2019 editorial intern for In These Times.

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