Anti-LGBT Discrimination Cases Continue To Rise, Reports EEOC

52% of LGBT Americans live in states that do not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

LGBT-related discrimination cases are on the rise for the third year in a row, reports the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC’s annual report reveals that, last year, the agency resolved 1,649 out of 1,768 LGBT-based sex discrimination cases and recovered $4.4 million for LGBT individuals. That’s up from 1,412 cases filed in 2015. (The commission began tracking LGBT bias in 2013.)


“[The] EEOC advances opportunity for all of America’s workers and plays a critical role in helping employers build stronger workplaces,” said commission chair Jenny Yang. “Despite the progress that has been made, we continue to see discrimination in both overt and subtle forms.”

In all, the agency resolved 97,443 charges of workplace discrimination in that same period. Nearly half (46% ) of the charges were designated “retaliation” claims.

According to the EEOC, it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee if they:

* talk with a supervisor about discrimination or harassment
* resist sexual advances or intervening to protect others
* request accommodation of a disability or religious practice
* ask managers or co-workers about salary information
* refuse to follow orders that would result in discrimination

The next largest class of charges were race-related (35%), followed by disability (30.7%), sex (29.4%), age (22.8%), national origin (10.8%) and religion (4.2%). (Some cases involve discrimination in multiple categories.)

Businessman packing up box in office

There are still no federal laws directly protecting workers on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Under the Obama administration, the EEOC has interpreted Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination as covering LGBT workers, as well.

Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Four states—Missouri, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and North Carolina—prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation alone, either in the private or public sector.

But 52% of LGBT Americans live in states that do not prohibit either.

And increasingly, “religious freedom” laws are being used to enshrine bias and overrule localordinances.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.