Today, as Exxon Mobil’s shareholders vote again to deny workplace protections to its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees, and the city of Houston, Texas votes on whether to extend such protections to LGBT workers, a newly released report paints a sobering portrait of widespread discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace. A Broken Bargain: Unchecked Discrimination Against LGBT Workers documents how LGBT workers continue to face unfair treatment, harassment, and discrimination, yet no federal law provides explicit legal protections.
LGBT workers face discrimination that makes it harder for them to find and keep good jobs, earn a living, and provide for themselves and their families. This discrimination includes:
- Bias and Discrimination in Recruitment and Hiring: LGBT workers can put their job prospects at risk if they disclose that they are LGBT while looking for work.
- On-the-Job Inequality and Unfair Firing: An LGBT employee may be in a workplace that is blatantly hostile, one that condones anti-gay or anti-transgender jokes and slurs, and/or one where employers look the other way and allow a discriminatory climate to flourish. A 2011 survey found that 58% of LGB workers and 78% of transgender workers had heard derogatory remarks or jokes at work. A different survey found 26% of transgender workers were unfairly fired because they were transgender and 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being ﬁred, not hired, or denied a promotion.
- Wage Gaps and Penalties: In addition to job and workplace discrimination, LGBT employees face wage disparities that make it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families. Polls show that individuals who self-identify as LGBT are more likely to report incomes of less than $24,000 per year, and are less likely to report incomes of more than $90,000 per year, compared to their non-LGBT peers.
An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that LGBT workers should be treated fairly. According to a 2014 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, 72% of Americans support workplace nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers. Yet the same poll revealed that 75% also erroneously believe such protections already exist under federal law.
Download the brief here.