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Jun 4, 2013

New Poll Shows North Carolina’s Small Businesses Strongly Support Employment Non-Discrimination Laws to Protect Gay and Transgender Workers

Raleigh, N.C. — A scientific opinion poll released today by national organization Small Business Majority and local partner Equality NC reveals that 67 percent of entrepreneurs and small business owners in North Carolina believe state law should prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender people. Sixty-five percent also support a federal law.

CLICK HERE to view the NC Poll.

CLICK HERE to view the full report.

“This poll underscores the business community’s widespread and broad-based support for policies protecting gay and transgender employees,” said Stuart Campbell, executive director of Equality NC. “Like the majority of Americans, North Carolina’s small business owners believe that no one should have to worry about losing their job, their home, or their security for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.”

The poll, conducted April 8-17, 2013 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, also found that the vast majority of small business owners were under the misconception that laws already existed to protect gay and transgender people. In terms of state law, a striking 64 percent of entrepreneurs thought it was illegal in North Carolina to make employment decisions based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And only 16 percent of small business owners believed it was legal under federal law to refuse to hire someone because they are gay or transgender.

“These results reveal an important point: once business owners understand there are no current protections for gay and transgender workers, there is strong support for updating existing laws to prohibit this type of discrimination in the workplace,” said Campbell. “The release of this polling data provides a perfect opportunity to not only educate North Carolinians about the harsh realities and economic impacts of employment discrimination – from business board rooms to the floor of the General Assembly – but also the need for common sense updates to existing categories of protection.”

Based on the poll, a majority of small business owners also believe laws protecting gay and transgender workers should apply even to those with religious beliefs. Six in 10 small business owners believe an employer should not be able to fire or refuse to hire someone who is gay or transgender based on their (the employer's) religious beliefs.

This commitment to treating all employees fairly stems, in part, from respondents’ understanding of current business realities. More than six in 10 (63 percent) entrepreneurs agree laws protecting employees from discrimination help boost bottom lines because they enable employers to attract the best and the brightest workers. Thirty-four percent of small businesses surveyed have a policy protecting gay and transgender employees — and 49 percent say their policy improves their ability to attract and retain talented employees.

“Small business owners know that to succeed, they need to attract the best and brightest talent to grow the bottom line. That’s why so many small business owners have implemented no-cost, common sense policies that treat all their hardworking employees with fairness and respect,” said Campbell.

North Carolina small business owners don’t simply support laws that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination — they also oppose laws that treat same-sex couples unequally.

  • Fifty-six percent of small employers oppose the current federal law permitting employers to offer family benefits to married heterosexual couples while denying those benefits to married same-sex couples.
  • Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of North Carolina small business owners oppose the federal law prohibiting lesbian and gay workers’ spouses from receiving the Social Security benefits that are extended to heterosexual spouses.
  • A 58 percent majority of entrepreneurs believe the federal Family and Medical Leave Act should provide unpaid leave for gay and lesbian employees, as it does for heterosexual workers.
  • Sixty-one percent of those surveyed agree that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act hurts businesses by requiring them to treat their employees differently and to administer two systems of benefits.

“It’s time for North Carolina to implement laws at the state level that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Until we do, our small businesses will continue to face extra administrative burdens and struggle to attract and retain the quality employees that are the heart of North Carolina’s economy,” said Campbell.

Poll respondents were politically diverse with 41 percent of identifying themselves as Republican or independent-leaning Republican, 42 percent as Democrat or independent-leaning Democrat, and 12 percent as independent.

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