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Study Shows Significant LGBT Discrimination in Workplace

By Jenny Brundin

Salt Lake City, UT – A new study shows evidence of employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in Utah. KUER's Jenny Brundin reports.

Forty-four percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual Utahns and sixty-six percent of transgender people report that they had been fired, denied a job, or not promoted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The study from UCLA'S Williams Institute is based on an Equality Utah survey of about 1,000 LGBT Utahns. Cliff Rosky of the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law is one of the study's co-authors. He says more than a third of respondents gave detailed descriptions of their experiences.

ROSKY: And those included verbal harassment, name-calling, and their work quite a few instances where they tried to stay in the closet at work but someone revealed them to a supervisor or a co-worker and then they experienced discrimination.

Such as getting fired, getting paid less for doing the same work as a straight person, being asked to worker longer hours, or being sexually assaulted after being outed. At least 30 percent of gay respondents and forty-five percent of transgendered workers reported being verbally harassed on a weekly basis in the past year. Rosky says attendance and productivity improve when anti-discrimination laws are in place.

ROSKY: They can just go in and do their work and be judged on the quality of their work rather than on their personal lives.

This legislative session, state lawmakers will consider a bill to protect gays against housing and employment discrimination. The study's authors argue that the impact of an expanded law on the Utah Labor Commission would be negligible. They estimate that for every 10,000 LGB employees, 5 complaints of sexual orientation discrimination would be filed each year. Some lawmakers are skeptical. They've voted down previous attempts to pass laws prohibiting workplace and housing discrimination against gays and lesbians. Since then, however, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has given public support to Salt Lake City's anti-discrimination ordinance and in the past year, 10 Utah cities and counties have passed their own expanded anti-discrimination ordinances.

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