9 Reasons LGBTQ Workers Need Federal Protections

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

Alex SchwartzAugust 13, 2019

(Photo by A-Digit / Getty Images)

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.

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

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