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Queer Town

Williams Institute Says Gays and Lesbians Still Vulnerable to Job Discrimination

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Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 7:00 AM
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In a new article for the Loyola Law Review, researchers at UCLA's Williams Institute, the premiere gay think tank in the United States, say that gay folks are still highly vulnerable in the workplace.

"Well-researched and documented patterns of discrimination highlight the need... of a federal ban on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination," says Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute, in a press statement.

For decades, gay rights activists have been trying to get federal workplace protections for LGBTs -- but to no avail.

Williams Institute research shows:

-- "LGBT people and their heterosexual coworkers consistently report having experienced or witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace."

-- "37 percent of lesbians and gays have experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent had lost a job because of their sexual orientation."

-- "As recently as 2011, 90 percent of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, or had taken actions to avoid it, and 47 percent reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity."

-- "Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can have a negative impact on the wages and mental and physical health of LGBT people."

Jennifer Pizer, legal director at the Williams Institute, notes:

"Our analysis shows that existing antidiscrimination law and corporate policies are an incomplete patchwork that leaves LGBT workers vulnerable on the job. A federal law, such as the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would fill the gaps and simplify the legal landscape for employees and employers alike."

ENDA, as it's known, will almost certainly not go to President Barack Obama's desk for signature this year. But if he's re-elected, the gay rights movement will undoubtedly press hard for its passage.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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