“Although federal law does not protect LGBTs from employment discrimination, a number of states have enacted laws protecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals,” says Peggy Carter-Ward, Head of Content, XpertHR. “These states are leaders in safeguarding LGBTs against discrimination in the workplace -- by passing gay rights ordinances, permitting same-sex marriage, providing benefits to same-sex partners, and/or outlawing hate crimes.”
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has long been a controversial issue. Fifty-two percent of the LGBT population lives in states that do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
Given the rate of change of legal protections for LGBTs among the states and across municipalities, employers who have not yet considered LGBT issues are well advised to review their policies and strategies to ensure they are compliant with the legal trends and are aware of the broader cultural shifts underway. The implications of this shift for all employers are significant and likely to increase in the coming years.
The demise of DOMA was inevitable, and some companies saw this coming and they changed their policies and practices, but many employers haven't made any change and they are trying to catch up with this reality today.
XpertHR’s report examined state-specific laws protecting against and prohibiting discrimination, states offering same-sex marriage and other benefits, state laws on hate crimes, and a generally positive working and living climate for LGBTs to determine which states offered the best working environment.
While some might be surprised that Iowa--located in the conservative Midwest—made the list, the Hawkeye State has been a leader in the region when it comes to rights for LGBT individuals. Iowa became the first Midwestern state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2009 and it has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2003. The same holds true for Minnesota, which in fact, has had an active gay rights movement since the 1970s and was the first state to implement gender identity protections.
Gay communities have thrived in California for quite some time, especially in cities like Los Angeles, Hollywood and San Francisco. In the 1970s, LGBT activist Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country and was instrumental in passing one of the nation’s first gay rights ordinances in San Francisco in 1978.
New England states like Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont are increasingly liberal and provide LGBT individuals with expanded rights and protections. Massachusetts became the first state to permit same-sex marriage in 2003 and over 20 years ago Governor William Weld permitted state employees to register as domestic partners for bereavement leave and visitation rights in state hospitals and prisons.
In order to arrive at a listing of the top 10 LGBT employment friendly states, a number of criteria were using including:
- Whether the state prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation;
- Whether the state prohibits employment discrimination based on gender identity;
- Whether the state permits same-sex marriage;
- Whether the state prohibits hate crimes based on sexual orientation;
- Whether the state prohibits hate crimes based on gender identity;
- Whether same-sex partners are provided with state FMLA benefits;
- State history of protecting LGBT rights including whether the state was a leader in extending protections;
- The state’s general cultural environment and atmosphere;
- The state’s general political environment and whether there have been LGBT politicians in leadership positions; and
- Municipal and county protections for LGBT individuals.
About the Author
Beth P. Zoller is the legal editor for the discrimination, affirmative action, harassment, retaliation, employee privacy, and employee handbooks/work rules/employee conduct content in the employee management section of XpertHR. Prior to joining XpertHR, Beth practiced law for more than 10 years, representing employers with respect to employment discrimination and harassment claims, contractual disputes, restrictive covenant issues, family and medical leave, wage and hour disputes and a variety of other employment-related claims.
XpertHR’s online service provides HR professionals with practical compliance tools and comprehensive guidance on federal, state and municipal law, helping employers stay current with evolving and complex employment law issues. It is published in association with sister company LexisNexis. XpertHR.com is a unique, easy-to-use solution organized around the day-to-day responsibilities of HR professionals. In addition to smart search features, you can browse through content by task, by topic, or by tool type to help you find just what you need in seconds. Our key features include the popular Employment Law Manual and Liveflo employment workflows. XpertHR is part of Reed Business Information.
About Reed Business Information
Reed Business Information brings leading brands to an audience of millions of decision makers worldwide through its multi- platform media of data services, online lead generation services, community websites, magazines and events.
Source: Press Release