Washington, D.C. – Today as many Americans prepare to celebrate Labor Day in honor of the contributions of workers across the country, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME) and the Center for American Progress released “Gay and Transgender Discrimination in the Public Sector.” Focusing on the approximately one million LGBT employees working in the public sector for the local, state or municipal government, this report reveals that LGBT people continue to experience high rates of employment discrimination and are often not afforded equal benefits on the job. It also details why workforce discrimination poses significant problems for state and local governments, public sector employees and taxpayers.
“The discrimination that LGBT public sector workers still face is deplorable,” said Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME. “While some states have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, a majority of state workers can still be legally fired for being gay. No worker should be subjected to these high rates of harassment or be forced into unemployment, deprived of health insurance for themselves and for their families. This is a wrong that we need to right, right now.”
This joint AFSCME and CAP report finds that 57.4 percent of Americans working in state government do not have legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Only a minority of state employees (just over four in ten, or 42.6 percent) work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation; only three in ten (31.8 percent) work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
“On top of denying basic workplace protections to all LGBT workers, taxpayers are footing the bill for this discrimination that all too often continues to go unchecked, said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. “Simply put, it is financially irresponsible to evaluate workers based on any characteristics that are not directly relevant to job performance, especially at a time when state and local budgets are in the red. Discrimination wastes our resources. So if we want more efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to government resources, we need to get serious about reducing discrimination in the public sector.”
To protect these workers from discrimination, Congress should pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, to ensure that gay and transgender workers in the public and private sector in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are afforded substantive legal protections from employment discrimination. For their part, states should continue to enact workplace nondiscrimination laws as well as extend relationship recognition rights to same-sex couples to ensure equal access to workplace benefits.
· The Costly Business of Discrimination
· Workplace Fairness for Gay and Transgender Workers
· The Top 10 Economic Facts of Diversity in the Workplace
· FAQ: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
· The State of Diversity in Today’s Workforce
To speak with CAP experts, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or email@example.com. To speak with AFSCME experts, please contact Chris Fleming at 202-429-1053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.