30 States Still Allow Employment Discrimination For LGBTQ People

Although issues of LGBTQ discrimination and inequality should always be at the forefront of our minds, they often get stuffed in tiny boxes in the back of the brain because, to be honest, there’s a lot of shit happening in the world that acts as a constant distraction from any single issue. However, following the horrific massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, the nation has no choice but to dust off those boxes and start actually addressing the hatred that impacts LGBTQ people’s everyday lives, and — as evidenced by the mass shooting — puts them in real danger. Discrimination happens in literally every aspect of non-straight people’s lives, and many states still allow LGBTQ employment discrimination. Yep, people can still legally be turned down for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

While, yes, the Orlando shooting was much more violent than being denied a job, inequality has to be addressed at every level and in every aspect of life in order for LGBTQ people to finally be treated with the dignity and respect of, you know, the human beings they are. The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accepts complaints of discrimination, as it interprets Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, but federal protections are not concrete.

Controversial Gay Pride March Takes Place
CREDIT: David Silverman/Getty Images

Granted, some states have addressed employment discrimination on their own, with 20 states completely banning employers from turning down applicants or firing existing employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. On the flip side, that means 30 states haven’t, and they can be broken down into four categories of varying degrees of bullshit.

States That Ban Discrimination Based Only On Sexual Orientation

2016 Gay Pride Parade Marches Through Philadelphia
CREDIT: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Wisconsin and New Hampshire outlawed employers from turning down potential employees because they’re gay, but failed to include gender identity in the law. As you’re probably aware, people who spew anti-LGBTQ hate will find any and every loophole possible to justify their heinous treatment of others, so not protecting transgender or non-binary employees puts them at risk of losing their jobs or not getting a job in the first place.

States That Ban Discrimination Only For Public Employees

Madrid Gay Pride Parade 2013
CREDIT: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Other states that got both the sexual orientation and gender identity aspects correct, did so only for public employees. People in Montana, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana who don’t work for the government can be fired for being anything but a cisgender straight person.

States That Ban Discrimination For Public Employees Based Only On Sexual Orientation

Celebrations Take Part Across Country As Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Gay Marriage
CREDIT: David McNew/Getty Images

Narrowing the scope of safety even further, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, and North Carolina have only prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation for public employees. So, anyone working in the private sector and transgender and non-binary folks working anywhere can legally be victimized.

States That Ban Literally No Type Of Discrimination

Gay Pride Is Celebrated In London
CREDIT: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

At the bottom of the barrel are the 16 states that don’t ban any type of LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and West Virginia have zero laws on the books to ensure LGBTQ residents are treated fairly at work or when looking for a job.

There’s clearly a lot of progress to be made in terms of protecting everyone’s right to work and be treated like everyone else while doing so.