Make no mistake: Workplace discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community is an ongoing problem that has made it difficult for many LGBT workers to financially provide for their families.
In the United States, LGBT workers often face a broken bargain from the lack of federal employment protections. Since no federal law exists, LGBT individuals are often terminated solely based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Generally, this means that LGBT individuals are either not hired for positions for which they are qualified or they are currently employed at places where they experience daily harassment.
This past month the Center for American Progress, the Movement Advancement Project, and the Human Rights Campaign released a new report, “A Broken Bargain,” which compiled all available information about LGBT workplace issues and “the one-two-three punch”—discrimination in employment, fewer benefits, and higher taxes—experienced by LGBT workers. Currently, it is still legal to fire an LGBT worker in a majority of states: 29 states do not have laws to protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers based on sexual orientation. For transgender workers, 34 states have failed to pass workplace-discrimination laws based on gender identity.
LGBT workers can put their job prospects at risk if they disclose that they are LGBT while looking for work. All too often, when a worker identifies as LGBT at work—or is perceived as being LGBT—he or she is subjected to a hostile work environment, where the worker could hear antigay slurs and encounter verbal and sometimes physical harassment.
On July 10, 2013, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, or HELP, will conduct a markup of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, a comprehensive federal law that provides employment protections to LGBT workers. To emphasize what will happen if ENDA is not passed, we are launching the “Workplace Discrimination Series.” This series will highlight LGBT individuals who have been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and why ENDA should be passed.
The story of Mia Macy:
Mia Macy always felt as though she was different than everybody else—she never really felt comfortable in her own skin. When she transitioned, she never thought that she could lose her job because of it. Check out Mia’s full story below about how she overcame workplace discrimination and came out a winner.
Workplace discrimination is a real problem that hurts real people. Congress should take the necessary steps to ensure that LGBT workers have comprehensive protections from discrimination by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Check back each Tuesday to hear more stories from LGBT workers about their experiences with workplace discrimination. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your own story.
Preston Mitchum is a Policy Analyst with the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress.