|The Memphis City Council will vote|
on an employment non-discrimination
ordinance on Tuesday, Sep. 18
Amending the proposed non-discrimination ordinance will enable city employees to earn a living, provide for their families and contribute to their communities without fear of being treated unfairly in the workplace. Right now, employees of the city of Memphis can be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Job applicants may also be refused city employment for the same reasons.
Nationally, LGBT people and their heterosexual coworkers consistently report experiencing or witnessing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace (Jennifer C. Pizer, Brad Sears, Christy Mallory, and Nan D. Hunter, Evidence of Persistent and Pervasive Workplace Discrimination Against LGBT People: The Need for Federal Legislation Prohibiting Discrimination and Providing for Equal Employment Benefits, 45 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 715 (2012):
- 37% of lesbian and gay people have experienced workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12% had lost a job because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey
- As recently as 2011, 90% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, or had taken actions to avoid it, and 47% reported having been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity.
Dr. Sharon Horne of the University of Memphis and her colleagues found that discrimination is a common occurrence in Tennessee. In three separate national studies they found the following for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents of Tennessee:
- 25.8% of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Tennessee residents reported discrimination in housing, services or employment because they were thought to be LGBT(Rostosky, S. S., Riggle, D. B., Horne, S. G., & Miller, A. (2009). The 2006 Marriage Amendments and psychological distress in Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) adults. Journal of Counseling, Psychology, 56, 56-66; Riggle, E. D. B., Rostosky, S. S., & Horne, S. G. (2009). Marriage amendments and Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual individuals in the 2006 Election. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 6, 80-89).
- 39.3% of gay male Tennessee residents reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace in the two years prior to the study (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E. . Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study).
- 23.2% of lesbian and bisexual Tennessee residents reported discrimination at a job, housing, or services [when asked separately: 16.1% job; 5.4% housing; 5.4% services]. (Horne, S.G., & Biss, W. (2009). Equality discrepancy between women in same-sex relationships: The mediating role of attachment in relationship satisfaction. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 60, 721-730).
- 25% of gay Tennessee residents reported being told offensive jokes about lesbians, gay men or bisexual people by their coworkers and supervisors (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E. . Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study.)
- 14.3% of gay Tennessee residents reported discrimination when seeking employment (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E. . Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study.)
- 21.4% of gay Tennessee residents reported homophobic remarks made by coworkers and supervisors (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E. . Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study.)
- 10.7% of gay Tennessee residents reported being denied a promotion, raise or other career advancement (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E. . Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study.)
- 10.7% of gay Tennessee residents reported their workplace atmosphere was oppressive with respect to sexual orientation. (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E. . Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study.)
- 32.1% of gay Tennessee residents reported that in their workplace gay employees fear job loss because of sexual orientation (Horne, S. G., & Manley, E.. Gay men in dual-career couples: A national study.)
- Gay men earn from 10% to 32% less than heterosexual men. According to the 2000 Census, men in same-sex couples in Tennessee earn $32,766 each year, significantly less than $44,122 for married men. The median income of men in same-sex couples in Tennessee is $28,000 or 15% less than that of married men ($33,000). (2000 Census Data; The Williams Institute . Evidence of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity: Complaints filed with state enforcement agencies 1999-2007).
Federal, state and municipal laws already protect workers from unfair treatment due to racism, ethnocentrism, sexism, ableism, or religionism. Irrational homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism contributes to unfair discrimination and unequal treatment of LGBT workers. This equality gap must be closed. To prevent these systemic biases from adversely affecting job applicants and employees of the City of Memphis, Tennessee Equality Project and other community leaders urge the Memphis City Council to enact an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance on Sep. 18.