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Oct 22, 2014

NEW STUDY: Approximately 159,000 LGBT Workers in North Carolina Lack Statewide Protections Against Ongoing Employment Discrimination

LOS ANGELES, C.A. (October 22, 2014) — Approximately 159,000 LGBT workers in North Carolina are vulnerable to employment discrimination absent explicit statewide legal protections, according to a new report co-authored by Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel, and Brad Sears, Executive Director, at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. At least seventeen localities in North Carolina prohibit public sector employment discrimination against LGBT people, however only 2% of the state’s labor force is employed by those municipalities.

The study is available here.

“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,” said Mallory. “Most likely, the cost of handing complaints filed under the law could be absorbed into the existing enforcement system with no need for additional staff or resources.”

Key findings include:

  • Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in North Carolina have been documented in the media, court cases and reports to legal organizations; these include reports from a several public school teachers and a law enforcement officer.
  • In response to a recent national survey of transgender people, 77% of respondents from North Carolina reported experiencing discrimination or harassment at work.
  • Census data show that in North Carolina, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 16 percent lower than men in different sex marriages.
  • Approximately 98 percent of North Carolina’s workforce is not covered by a local law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While at least 17 localities prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity against their own government employees, no local laws prohibit discrimination in the private sector.
  • Many private sector employers in North Carolina have implemented their own internal policies prohibiting sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, including 11 of the 12 Fortune 500 companies based in the state.
  • Public opinion in North Carolina supports the passage of legal protections for LGBT people. In response to a 2013 survey conducted in the state, 73% of respondents said that employers should not be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • A statewide non-discrimination law would result in approximately 58 additional complaints being filed each year; 50 filed by private sector workers in the courts and eight filed administratively by government workers.

Because North Carolina’s judicial system has a heavy caseload which varies substantially from year to year, it is likely that an additional 50 complaints would have no noticeable impact on the system’s existing budget, staff, or resources. Similarly, it is likely that eight additional complaints could be absorbed into the existing duties of the Office of State Human Resources with minimal impact.

Findings from the North Carolina report are consistent with national data.

ABOUT THE WILLIAMS INSTITUTE: The Williams Institute is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. For more information go to: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/. 

ABOUT EQUALITY NC: Equality NC is the statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians. 

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