County and city governments played a leading role in 2002 in extending equal protection in the workplace to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, according to a study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's WorkNet project.
More cities and counties enacted laws in 2002 prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity than in any previous year, with 15 local jurisdictions outlawing job discrimination based on sexual orientation and 16 passing measures covering gender identity and/or expression. This compares to eight and five, respectively, in 2001, according to the report, entitled 'The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans.'
At the same time, the number of all types of employers offering domestic-partner health insurance benefits grew by 16 percent in 2002, while the number of employers instituting sexual orientation non-discrimination policies rose 7 percent, the report found.
'Employers of all types—public and private—are coming to the realization that their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees deserve to be treated equally, and that to do so is good business,' said HRC Education Director Kim I. Mills, who oversees WorkNet.
In addition, one state—New York—passed a law against sexual orientation discrimination in 2002, 30 years after the measure was first introduced. In 2001, Maryland was the only state to pass an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation.
Although the number of employers offering domestic-partner health insurance benefits and having sexual orientation non-discrimination policies grew between 2001 and 2002, the growth rate for both these factors declined compared to the prior year, according to the study.
Read more story below....
'This is not surprising, given the rocky state of the U.S. and world economies and the political uncertainties since Sept. 11, 2001,' said Daryl Herrschaft, associate director for HRC WorkNet and chief author of the report.
The number of employers offering domestic-partner health insurance benefits grew by 16 percent in 2002, compared to 24 percent the year before; the number of employers with sexual orientation non-discrimination policies rose by 7 percent, compared to 17 percent in 2001.
Among the report's other findings:
— Fifteen Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination policies covering gender identity at year end.
— Sixty-one percent of the Fortune 500 included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies at the end of 2002.
— Twenty Fortune 500 companies implemented partner health insurance benefits in 2002, for a total of 169 at year end.
— Opponents of civil rights for gay and lesbian workers failed in the four cities where they were able to get on the ballot, and were unable to collect enough signatures in two other cities and the state of Maine.
See www.hrc.org .