Bias in the Workplace: Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination
By M.V. Lee Badgett, Holning Lau, Brad Sears, and Deborah Ho
This report reviews more than 50 studies over the last decade and demonstrates a disturbing and consistent pattern: sexual orientation-based and gender identity discrimination is a common occurrence in many workplaces across the country. Surveys of GLBT individuals, studies of the sexual orientation earnings gap, and controlled experiments all provide evidence of discriminatory treatment.
The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy recently published a report on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Bias In Workplace, which brought to light some of the difficulties and challenges transgender employees endure in the US workplace.It comes as a surprise to GLBs, but not T's. Highly educated? Check. 25% with graduate or post-graduate degrees, in fact. Low rates of unemployment and underemployment? It is to laugh.
According to the UCLA Center for Women & Men, “transgender refers to individuals who feel that they have been born as the wrong gender and are truly a member of the opposite sex. These individuals may dress and act as the opposite sex and sometimes change their names and pronouns to reflect their true gender.”As such, these transgender individuals experience workplace harassment, employment discrimination, unjust dismissal, and even physical abuse from coworkers.
In the Williams Institute’s report on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Bias In Workplace, LGBT employees reported employment discrimination rates as high as 68 percent. As alarming as that level of discrimination is, when transgender individuals were surveyed separately, they reported similar or higher levels of employment discrimination:
* Fifteen to 57% of transgender employees reported that they experienced employment discrimination on the job.
* In six separate studies conducted between 1996 and 2006, 20% to 57% of transgender respondents reported having experienced employment discrimination at some point in their life.
* Between 13 and 56 percent of the transgender respondents to those six studies were fired from their jobs, and between 13 and 47 percent of transgender respondents were denied employment.
* Based on their gender identity alone, between 22 and 31 percent of transgender respondents were harassed at work and 19 percent were denied promotions.
Transgender individuals also report high rates of unemployment and very low earnings:
* Between 6 and 60 percent of transgender respondents reported being unemployed.
* Between 22 and 64 percent of the employed transgender population earns less than $25,000 per year.
I’m sure that it comes as no surprise to any of us that this type of discrimination against transgender employees exists and is far too prevalent in the workplace today. But what really surprised me is the high rates of unemployment among transgender individuals, because I had always assumed that the LGBT community in America was a more affluent, highly educated community with low rates of unemployment and underemployment.
But the findings of this report clearly indicate just the opposite. Think about it. One segment of the LGBT community has unemployment rates as high as 60 percent—twelve times the national average unemployment rate, which usually hovers around just 5 percent.One segment. The one that was removed from the Employment NonDiscrimination Act so it only covered GLBs.