|English: U.S. LGBT employment discrimination law. Sexual orientation and gender identity: all employment Sexual orientation: all employment Sexual orientation and gender identity: state employment Sexual orientation: state employment No state-level protection for LGBT employees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Here in Michigan, we’ve had our fair share of marriage equality-related news as speculation about a 2016 referendum to overturn the state’s ban on gay marriage is seen regularly in the news.
In a report from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, research cited from the Movement Advancement Project shows that half of America’s LGBT population now reside in states with nondiscrimination laws, about double the number that were covered in 2000.
According to the ACLU website, Michigan does prohibit discrimination in public employment with regards to both gender identity and sexual orientation.
Michigan, however, has not moved to update its policies to include private employment despite having attempted several times to update the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of1976, most recently in 2012 when Rebekah Warren (D – Ann Arbor) introduced anon-discrimination bill to the senate. The bill never received a hearing.
Organizations like the One Capital Region based in Lansing and One Battle Creek have been pushing townships and cities to approve ordinances that would make it illegal to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace or in housing.
Just this week Oshtemo, a Kalamazoo suburb, became the 26th Michigan community to pass a non-discrimination ordinance – up from only 19 communities in August of 2012.
· First of all, it creates a brain-drain scenario in the state. A survey cited by the MDCR shows that a majority of LGB respondents (55 percent) and half of transgender respondents pursuing post-undergraduate degrees plan on leaving the state after graduating, many of them citing Michigan’s inhospitable attitude towards the community and lack of legal protections.
· Secondly, employers who do not foster an inclusive workplace not only create a hostile environment for LGBT employees, but also for straight employees whose sexuality or gender identity may be drawn into question. Straight employees who refuse to comply with discriminatory practices may also be subject to discipline or even be fired.
· Thirdly, the report by the MDCR also showed that employee turnover can cost employers anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars on the low end to over $200,000 for salaried employees making $100,000 annually.
As can be told in part based off of the statistics already cited from the HRC, showing that only half of the Fortune 500 include gender identity in their policies and only 16 states have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity whereas other states such as New York only include sexual orientation.
Another survey mentioned in the report showed that 70 percent of participants had encountered some form of discrimination or harassment. By comparison, only 15 to 43 percent on LGB employees have faced discrimination in the workplace according to surveys mentioned by the MDCR report conducted over a lengthy period dating back to the 1990s.
Although I don’t wish to draw a comparison between LGBT and transgender people to show who’s “worse off,” too often the movement for LGBT rights neglects the “T” in favor of the “LGB.” I admit that I myself am often guilty of this needless and unhelpful favoritism as well.