A recent study reveals that complaints of anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination are on the rise, but most victims never see justice.
InsuranceQuotes dug into data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on complaints of workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation since 2013, the year the EEOC began tracking such figures.
Not surprisingly, Southern states saw a heavy concentration of complaints: Georgia and Mississippi neared the top of the list with roughly four charges per 100,000 residents. But despite Washington, D.C.’s reputation as a gay mecca, the nation’s capital had the most complaints in the entire country.
Over all, charges of anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination have increased, from 1,100 in 2014 to 1,412 in 2015 and 1,768 in 2016. They leveled off slightly in 2017, to 1,762, but researchers theorize that uncertainty about their rights under the Trump administration is making some victims hesitant to file charges.
Regardless of the number of cases, the outcomes remained fairly the same: Most complaints were dismissed for lack of cause. In 2013, such cases represented 64 percent of all charges filed. In 2017, they were 68 percent.
Complaints that ended in “merit resolutions” hovered around 16 percent for all five years. (Merit resolutions include negotiated settlements, withdrawals with benefits, and both successful and unsuccessful conciliations.) When there was a monetary reward, the payouts totaled less than $1 million in 2013. In 2017, that figure soared to more than $5 million in 2017.
But individually, those victims took home about $15,600 — much less than the average settlement in 2013.
The EEOC maintains that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the Trump administration has insisted that employment protections don’t extend to LGBTQ Americans. Just last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a religious liberty task force to “help the department fully implement our religious guidance.”
“A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom,” Sessions said. “We have gotten to the point… where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
According to Out and Equal, one in four LGBTQ employees has experienced employment discrimination in the past five years. (Nearly one in ten report leaving a job because of an unwelcoming environment.) But even though 71% of Americans support a federal law protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, efforts to introduce such a measure in Congress have repeatedly failed. Today it’s still completely legal to fire someone for being gay, bi or transgender in 28 states.
Still the authors of the report see a silver lining.
“The sheer volume of these charges may indicate empowerment,” they wrote. “Rather than suffering in silence, LGBTQ citizens are making use of a valuable resource to assert their rights. Although discrimination remains an unfortunate part of America’s employment landscape, we should celebrate those with the courage to combat it.”