June 22nd, 2012

There are federal laws in place to protect the rights of protected classes in the workplace, including discrimination based on race, socio-economic status, sex and religious beliefs. However, there is no federal statute protecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against workplace discrimination. This is unfortunate, considering that Minnesota was the first in the union to pass such laws on a state level.

Regardless of state or federal laws, the Williams Institute at UCLA recently released a report that shows that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is still a major problem. In fact, such actions were “consistently” reported by employees.

According to the study, as many as 37 percent of lesbians experienced discrimination on the job, and a surprising 12 percent were fired because of their sexual orientation. These individuals may have little legal recourse if their company or state does not specifically protect against such discriminatory acts.

The statistics among the transgender community are much more shocking: A total of 90 percent of individuals who identify as transgender say that have been harassed at work. Furthermore, 47 percent have experienced discrimination, as they have been denied pay raises, job offers or promotions due to their gender identity.

These findings have led researchers at the think tank to call for action on a federal level, insisting that lawmakers pass legislation to protect the LGBT community. Without a federal standard, many people are left without many legal options if they face unfair treatment.

For Minnesotans who believe they have missed out or been passed up for employment opportunities due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, it may be best to explore your legal options. Thankfully, state laws provide protection for employees, so anyone who is put in this difficult position has the ability to take a brave stand against unnecessary, unfair treatment in the workplace.

Source: LA Weekly, “Williams Institute Says Gays and Lesbians Still Vulnerable to Job Discrimination,” Patrick Range McDonald, June 13, 2012.

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