By BTL Staff
MICHIGAN – A new report from the Williams Institute at UCLA confirms that 184,000 LGBT workers in the state are vulnerable to employment discrimination absent explicit statewide legal protections. Adding sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state’s existing non-discrimination law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, would protect these workers and would not be costly or burdensome for the state to enforce.
Michigan currently has 33 municipalities with ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment, but approximately 84 percent of the workforce is not covered by these laws.
Several instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Michigan have been documented; including reports from a CEO, a nursing assistant and a local government employee, the Williams Institute reports.
“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 for the study, said. “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.”
Twenty-one Fortune 1000 companies based in Michigan prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Twelve of those companies prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The state prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment by executive directive but those protections are not extended throughout employers in the state.
In a 2010 survey, 84 percent of trans people in the state reported experiencing discrimination and harassment at work, 34 percent reported losing a job, 23 percent reported being denied a promotion and 44 percent report not being chosen for the job, based on their gender identity and expression.
Fifty-five percent of LGBT people and LGBT allies in Michigan reported experiencing discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation and 19 percent reported experiencing discrimination or harassment based on their gender expression, according to a 2012 survey.
Public opinion polls have found that 80 percent of Michigan residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state. Sixty-five percent of respondents to a 2011 poll, said that they would favor the state legislature adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
Findings from the 2013 Michigan report conducted by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission are consistent with national data.