429,000 Texas workers may face anti-LGBT bias

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Some 429,000 LGBT workers in Texas face smaller paychecks, trouble getting hired and are vulnerable to other workplace discrimination since the state doesn't offer them protections, according to a new study.

The study from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute called for the passage of statewide employment protections for LGBT workers to bolster those offered in a handful of municipalities. The study, released Thursday, said the protections would be inexpensive to enforce.

“A statewide law prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would bring new protections to thousands of workers without burdening courts and agencies,” Christy Mallory, senior counsel at the Williams Institute, said in a prepared statement. “Most likely, the cost of handling complaints filed under the law could be absorbed into the existing enforcement system with no need for additional staff or resources.”

A majority of Texas voters support a law protecting LGBT people from discrimination and even a majority of Republicans back LGBT employment protections, according to a Texas Wins poll released this week. Yet legislation prohibiting employment discrimination has gone nowhere this session in the Texas Legislature. And only a few of the Fortune 500 companies based in Texas get it right when it comes to LGBT policies.

The study from the Williams Institute found that LGBT workers complained about being unfairly treated in the workplace, that large numbers of transgender people faced workplace discrimination and that men in gay relationships are paid less than straight men. 

Among the findings:

  • In response to a national 2010 survey, 79% of transgender people from Texas reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, and 45% reported that they were not hired, 26% reported that they were fired, and 22% reported being denied a promotion because of their gender identity or expression.
  • Census data show that in Texas, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 9% lower than men in different sex marriages.
  • Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 79% of Texas residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.
  • Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Texas have been documented in the media and lawsuits; these include reports from teachers, a detective, an architect, and a bank employee.
  • Survey data show that, nationally, 21% of LGBT respondents report being treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotions.

The study also showed that enforcing a statewide non-discrimination ordinance would cost $260,000 to $320,000 to investigate an expected 200 complaints per year.


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