Wednesday, June 20, 2007


One of the cries from opponents of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is that discrimination isn't a reality. Under the auspices of never having observed or experienced discrimination, they'll claim something like, "I've never seen anyone where I work discriminated against." It's a mean spirited workplace equivalent of "I've never seen baby pigeons; they must not exist."

LGBT people are harassed at the same incidence as African-Americans and Hispanics:

(New York City) A study of diversity in the workplace has found that 28 percent of LGBT employees have suffered harassment in the workplace with nearly half describing it as severe.

The survey was taken by Harris Interactive for, an online employment service, and and Kelly Services. It focused on workers in seven groups - African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Females, LGBT workers and people in the workforce over the age of 50.

CareerBuilder said it ordered the survey to gauge the frequency and severity of discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace, whether employee diversity is valued and how diversity impacts hiring decisions, compensation and career advancement.

A total of 23 percent of diverse workers said they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly in the workplace.

The highest incidence was 44 percent for people with disabilities while Asian workers and mature workers reported the lowest incidence at 21 percent each.

Thirty percent of African Americans reported discrimination at work, as did 29 percent of Hispanics. With the margin of error both groups were tied with LGBT workers.

The most common incidents of discrimination or unfair treatment involved not receiving credit for one's work. That was reported by 48 percent of the respondents.

Almost as many said their concerns about discrimination were not addressed or taken seriously.

Thirty-three percent said they were victimized by co-workers talking behind their backs and almost as many said they were overlooked for promotion. ...

The report also shows that most of the discrimination or unfair treatment goes unaddressed.

Half of diverse workers who experienced discrimination or unfair treatment said they did not report the incident. Of these workers, 64 percent said they didn't think reporting the incident would make a difference while 35 percent feared being labeled as a trouble-maker and 32 percent feared losing their jobs.

So, we experience equal harassment, but, in most of the country, don't have any recourse. I understand the argument that looks to examine why the statistics of this study reveal similar harassment rates for an unprotected group and two protected groups (It's likely that differences could be explained by more careful examinations of reporting incidence, employee "outness," and industries traditionally employing men.), but it misses the point.

The point is this: In most of America, if I'm discriminated against at work for being LGBT, and that includes being fired, there is nothing I can do about.