Sears Briefs Congress on widespread sexual orientation, gender identity discrimination in public sector in first full House hearing on Employment Non-Discrimination Act
WASHINGTON, -- Unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation occurs with the same high frequency in state and local governments as in the private sector, Brad Sears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute, told a congressional panel today.
Sears presented the findings during a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, which would prohibit job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. Workplace discrimination on those bases is now legal in a majority of states.
The finds come from a year-long study of workplace issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals across the country. The study - the most comprehensive review of discrimination against LGBT people in the public sector - examined employment surveys, administrative and legal complaints, wage records, and other publications to evaluate the extent and persistence of LGBT discrimination.
"Our findings clearly demonstrate that discrimination against members of the LGBT community is persistent and occurs at all levels of government," Sears said. "This is exactly the kind of data that was presented to support passage of earlier civil rights legislation, and Congress should act now to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
The data the Williams Institute and its co-investigators gathered and presented to Congress contain proof of widespread discrimination, including:
- One in five LGBT public sector employees has experienced workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation according to a 2008 study; a 2009 study found that 13% had reported such discrimination in the past year alone.
- A persistent and significant wage gap exists between heterosexual and LGBT employees. For example, government LGBT employees earn wages that are 8-29% lower than their heterosexual counterparts.
- Sexual orientation-based discrimination affects good, productive employees. The Williams Institute has collected nearly 400 anecdotes of LGBT workplace discrimination; in not a single case did a rational basis for the adverse employment action exist.
Georgetown Law Center Professor Nan Hunter, Williams Institute Law Fellow Christy Mallory, eight law firms and a cross-discipline group of scholars contributed to the research.
The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers and the public.
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