One in ten LGBT workers experienced discrimination at work in the last year

Anonymous survey graphic

More than half of LGBT’s experienced harassment motivated by religious beliefs at work

Using survey data collected in May 2021 from 935 LGBT adults in the workforce, researchers from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law examined lifetime, five-year and past-year discrimination among LGBT employees.

Results show that an estimated 46 percent of LGBT workers have experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their lives, including being fired, not hired or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Over half (57 percent) of LGBT employees who experienced discrimination or harassment at work reported that the unfair treatment was motivated by religious beliefs, including 64 percent of LGBT employees of color and 49 percent of white LGBT employees.

“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. “Passing the Equality Act would ensure that LGBT people—particularly transgender people and LGBT people of color—are allowed to participate fully in the workplace as well as other public settings.”

The study found that approximately 11 percent of LGBT employees of color reported being fired or not hired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the last year. Compared to 18 percent of white LGBT employees, 29 percent of LGBT employees of color reported not being hired.

At some point in their lives, 38 percent of LGBT employees reported experiencing at least one form of harassment (including verbal, physical, or sexual harassment) at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, LGBT employees of color were significantly more likely to experience verbal harassment than white employees—36 percent of LGBT employees of color reported experiencing verbal harassment compared to 26 percent of white LGBT employees.

With the high percentage of discrimination and harassment, LGBT employees often are reluctant to disclose information regarding their sexuality. Half (50 percent) of LGBT employees said that they are not open about being LGBT to their current supervisor and one-quarter (26 percent) are not out to any of their co-workers.

Many LGBT employees reported engaging in “covering” behaviors to avoid harassment or discrimination at work, such as changing their physical appearance and avoiding talking about their families or social lives at work. For example, 36 percent of transgender employees said that they changed their physical appearance and 28 percent said they changed their bathroom use at work to avoid discrimination and harassment.

Journalist Chelsey Johnstone is the former Project Manager for Greater Trenton and was primary writer for TrentonDaily. She is a senior journalism major at Montclair State University and former communication and music student at Mercer County Community College. While attending her community college, Chelsey led her student newspaper, The College VOICE, as Editor-in-Chief. Now, Chelsey is working to advance her journalist skills freelancing for Out in Jersey Magazine and Unclear Magazine with the hope of positively impacting the world of reporting.