LGBT workers experience high levels of workplace discrimination

Arguably, the recent decade or two have seen a major shift in social attitudes toward members of the LGBT community — but a new study indicates that there is a long way to go.

According to researchers at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, roughly 46% of LGBT people have experienced some kind of workplace discrimination that can be directly tied back to their gender identity or sexual orientation. 

Legal gains don’t always translate into real-life situations

Despite the 2020 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that officially extended anti-discrimination protections to people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, researchers found that roughly 9% of LGBT workers still experienced some form of discrimination at work within the past year. 

In many cases, the LGBT victims of such discrimination believed that the disparate treatment they received was religiously motivated. As the lead author of the study put it, “Employment discrimination and harassment against LGBT people remain persistent and pervasive in 2021.”

The news is worse for LGBT workers of color

LGBT people of color often experience a double-whammy of discrimination. They report workplace discrimination when it comes to hiring, promotions and job opportunities at far higher rates than their white counterparts. 

For example, 18% of white LGBT workers report that they’ve been denied a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, while 29% of LGBT people of color report the same. Similarly, 36% of LGBT workers of color have been verbally harassed at work, while only 26% of white LGBT workers have experienced such problems.

Perhaps most distressing of all, the study indicated that fully 50% of LGBT workers feel that they need to hide that aspect of their identity from their bosses, and more than a quarter keep their LGBT status hidden from their co-workers, as well.

If you’ve experienced discrimination at work because you’re a member of the LGBT community, know that you don’t have to accept that kind of treatment. Legal options are available that will allow you to assert your rights and fight back.  


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