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LGBTQ Employees Still Face Legal Discrimination

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people less likely to be hired, paid less, and not promoted. Political leaders change, and with that change, the federal, state and local government profess can be great or take steps backward. So it’s up to the corporate world to provide the protections and advances for their employees. When companies focus on Diversity and Inclusion it benefits the company, the shareholders and the employees.

American everyday people attitudes have changed considerably in the last decade. The more comfortable LGBT people are coming out and being visible within the family, in their neighborhoods/communities and at work, the more others see them and get to know them. This removes the fear of “other” and “not like me”. I’ve had a saying for several years that is, “visibility leads to awareness and awareness leads to equality. In 2017, 63% of Americans said gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers should be accepted by society according to a Pew Research Center survey. In 2006 only a razor-thin 51% of Americans stated they agreed with that statement. This change in attitudes by every day Americans may be the reason for the changes in corporate diversity and inclusion work culture. As of now, right about 89% of Fortune 500 companies have implemented company LGBTQ friendly and supportive policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation studies conducted by the Human Rights Campaign. However, even with these changing beliefs and attitudes, the local, state, federal laws have not yet caught up with the changing tide.

There is currently no nation-wide law to protect gender and sexual minorities from employment discrimination in the private sector or under most states employment laws. In the majority of the US states, being fired due to sexual orientation or gender orientation is a huge risk and reality. In Arkansas, the state government went as far as passing a law to prevent local governments from passing separate laws to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender orientation.

Twenty-eight states have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation for public employees according to Lambda Legal. Some argue that providing protections for LGBTQ people in at work violates the religious freedom of the business owner or other employees. Some companies/organizations prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ workers if they work for the state but have no law extending to private sector employers.

In a past article titled “LGBT Workers in over half of the United States lack full protection”, we compared the legal protection each state offers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender orientation. Check out this article for a graphic of the United States coverage of LGBT state-level protections.

What Can Companies Do to Improve Work Culture for LGBT Employees?

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About the author: Dennis Velco
An LGBTQ rights activist who focuses on the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur community. Enabling employer brands to thrive and demonstrate their support for their LGBTQ employees and the community.

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