Agency calls for federal legislation to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination
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Friday, December 15, 2017

Agency calls for federal legislation to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has released a report calling on Congress to enact legislation addressing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The report, “Working for Inclusion: Time for Congress to Enact Federal Legislation to Address Workplace Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Americans,” examines the main social and economic arguments made for and against enacting federal legislation to provide federal nondiscrimination workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees.

The report is based on testimony and written materials submitted to the Commission. The report also includes extensive social science research and surveys, and reflects the reality that many LGBT Americans experience prejudice and discrimination in the workplace.

The Commission evaluated rates of LGBT employment and employment-related discrimination, arguments for and against enacting federal legislation to address this discrimination, and the landscape impacting legal protections available to LGBT Americans at work.

Key findings from a majority of the Commission include:

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers have faced a long, serious, and pervasive history of official and unofficial employment discrimination by federal, state, and local governments and private employers.
  • Federal data sources do not effectively capture rates of LGBT employment or rates of LGBT employment discrimination.
  • An inconsistent and irreconcilable patchwork of state laws against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination and federal court decisions interpreting existing law render LGBT employees insufficiently protected from workplace discrimination.

According to the Commission, 28 states offer no sexual orientation or gender identity protections; of the 22 states that do protect LGB employees, two exclude transgender employees from protection. The Commission’s primary recommendation is for Congress to immediately enact a federal law explicitly banning discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The report also recommended:

  • Federal data sources such as the Census, American Community Survey, and federal agency surveys should include sexual orientation and gender identity questions in population-based surveys of the workforce.
  • Federal agencies should issue and —where relevant—reaffirm specific guidance for federal and private employers outlining protections for LGBT individuals in the workforce, including specifically enumerating protections for transgender persons; federal agencies should also collect workplace discrimination data about LGBT employees.

The Commission’s report was submitted to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker of the House Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell. The report is also available to the public on the Commission’s website, www.usccr.gov.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, established by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, is the only independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and reporting annually on federal civil rights. More information can be found on the agency’s website, Twitter or Facebook.

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