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1 in 10 LGBT workers experienced discrimination at work

An estimated 46% of LGBT workers experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their lives. This included being fired, not hired, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Photo by Marten Bjork from Unsplash.com

A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that an estimated 46% of LGBT workers experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their lives. This included being fired, not hired, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Using survey data collected in May 2021 from 935 LGBT adults in the workforce, researchers particularly examined lifetime, five-year, and past-year discrimination among LGBT employees. Results showed that over half (57%) of LGBT employees who experienced discrimination or harassment at work reported that the unfair treatment was motivated by religious beliefs.

“Employment discrimination and harassment against LGBT people remain persistent and pervasive in 2021,” said lead author Brad Sears, founding executive director at the Williams Institute.

Additional findings included:

  • 29.8% of LGBT employees reported experiencing at least one form of employment discrimination (being fired or not hired) because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lives
  • Transgender employees were also significantly more likely to experience discrimination based on their LGBT status than cisgender LGB employees – i.e. 48.8% of transgender employees reported experiencing discrimination (being fired or not hired) based on their LGBT status compared to 27.8% of cisgender LGB employees
  • Over twice as many transgender employees reported not being hired (43.9%) because of their LGBT status compared to LGB employees (21.5%)
  • 37.7%) of LGBT employees reported experiencing at least one form of harassment at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lives
  • 20.8% LGBT employees reported experiencing physical harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Reports of physical harassment included being “punched,” “hit,” and ‘beaten up” in the workplace
  • 67.5% of LGBT employees reported that they have heard negative comments, slurs, or jokes about LGBTQ people at work. Many LGBT people reported being called or hearing words like “f****t,” “queer,” “sissy,” “tranny,” and “dyke” in the workplace

Respondents also reported other types of unfair treatment based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, including not being promoted, not receiving raises, being treated differently than those with different-sex partners, having their schedules changed or reduced, and being excluded from company events.

Related to this:

  • 36.4% of transgender employees said that they changed their physical appearance and 27.5% said they changed their bathroom use at work compared to 23.3% and 14.9% of cisgender LGB employees
  • 34.2% of LGBT employees said that they have left a job because of how they were treated by their employer based on their sexual orientation or gender identity

Sadly, discrimination was often rooted in religion, with 57%) of LGBT employees who experienced discrimination or harassment at work reported that their employer or co-workers did or said something to indicate that the unfair treatment was motivated by religious beliefs. For many, this included being quoted to from the Bible, told to pray that they weren’t LGBT, and told that they would “go to hell” or were “an abomination.”

To avoid being discriminated, half (50.4%) of LGBT employees said that they are not open about being LGBT to their current supervisor and one-quarter (25.8%) are not out to any of their co-workers.

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