It was “the gayest year in history,” the vice president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign said of 2013 at the end of the year. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court and several states expanded protections for the LGBT community.
Those rights expansions have made a difference since then, according to newly released research. The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Employment Equity says that more gay, lesbian and transgender workers are fighting workplace discrimination in court since the 2013 extension of federal anti-discrimination coverage.
That is especially true in states that don’t have laws specifically protecting the rights of the LGBT community. Of course, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation back in 1982.
Twenty-one states ban all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Twenty-four states have at least one city or county with a law on the boos offering some protection.
A co-author of the report believes that the 2013 changes helped make people more comfortable filing complaints, though the numbers of complaints in states without specific protections are 23 percent lower than in states such as Wisconsin, with protections.
More than 40 percent of the complaints come from workers in a few industries: retail, accommodations and food services, as well as waste management and remediation services.
Slightly more than half of all complaints were filed because the of a firing and about 47 percent were because of harassment, the report states.
Those who have experienced workplace discrimination, retaliation or harassment should contact an employment law attorney to learn more about their legal options.