Discrimination against LGBT public sector workers proving costly to taxpayerOnline Only, Top Highlights Thursday, September 13th, 2012
A new report claims that discrimination against LGBT government employees continues to be high and is proving costly to the taxpayer.
Focused on the approximately one million LGBT employees working in the public sector for the local, state or municipal government, the report, Gay and Transgender Discrimination in the Public Sector, released by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), reveals that LGBT people continue to experience high rates of employment discrimination and are often not afforded equal benefits on the job. It also details why workforce discrimination poses significant problems for state and local governments, public sector employees and taxpayers.
The joint AFSCME and CAP report finds that 57.4 percent of Americans working in state government do not have legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Only a minority of state employees (just over four in ten, or 42.6 percent) work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation; only three in ten (31.8 percent) work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
The report states, “Unfortunately, far too many gay and transgender public-sector employees arrive at work each day fearing that they may lose their job due to discrimination. Moreover, these workers often have little or no legal recourse when discrimination occurs. Research and data reveal that gay and transgender employees experience rates of discrimination on the job comparable to other protected groups, but they lack the same legal protections afforded to those groups.
Rather than being evaluated on their skills, qualifications, and ability to contribute on the job, gay and transgender workers are all too often not hired, not promoted, or, in the worst cases, fired from their jobs based solely on their sexual orientation and gender identity—characteristics completely irrelevant to job performance. Sadly, for gay and transgender workers discrimination results in significant job insecurity and makes it more difficult for them to make ends meet and provide for their families.”
The report also highlights the cost to the taxpayer of this discrimination, “Discrimination against gay and transgender workers introduces costly inefficiencies and thereby imposes significant financial harm on government entities.
Discrimination forces out the best and the brightest employees, minimizes productivity, introduces turnover-related costs, and exposes governments to potentially costly litigation. At a time when states are facing severe budget shortfalls, discrimination simply does not make financial sense.”
Commenting on the report Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress said, “On top of denying basic workplace protections to all LGBT workers, taxpayers are footing the bill for this discrimination that all too often continues to go unchecked. Simply put, it is financially irresponsible to evaluate workers based on any characteristics that are not directly relevant to job performance, especially at a time when state and local budgets are in the red. Discrimination wastes our resources. So if we want more efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to government resources, we need to get serious about reducing discrimination in the public sector.”
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