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Workplace Discrimination Based on LGBT


The research paper is dedicated to the unfair treatment, prejudice, and negative attitudes that employers express towards individuals who are lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual (LGBT) in the places of work. The paper explains the research and statistics of LGBT discrimination in the workplaces. There is a discussion on shared challenges that LGBT employees face in the places of work, which include pay differences, lack of promotions, and disrespect from employers and fellow employees once the sexual orientation of an individual is in the public domain. The paper outlines the importance of governments enacting laws that safeguard against the discrimination of LGBT employees in the workplaces. The article emphasizes the importance of inclusion of non-discriminative policies to employers, society, and other employees. The paper explains that the non-discriminative policies are strategies to increase the employee’s commitment and engagement to their work which will, in turn, produce benefits to the business.


Discrimination by sexual orientation means treating or having a different perception of an individual only because of their real or assumed sexual orientation, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or straight. The mistreatment and unfair attitudes may arise as a result of a person’s view on other people’s lives and whether their sexual orientation is correct or not, according to that particular person. Individuals who are discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation are likely to experience harassment because of gender identity or sex. Gender identity means that the gender that a person chooses to identify with may be different from the anatomical sex assigned after birth. Though gender identity may not be clearly outlined in the laws, protecting people from sexual orientation discrimination, the harassment of people due to their gender identification is a form of sex-based discrimination. People with gender identity issues often consider gender transitioning in the employment sector; such people may experience different treatment from employers or co-employees.

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Gender identity is accompanied by some matters that may include people making rude jokes or comments, needing to change your name in the documents given to the employer, work place dressing codes, and accessibility to restroom facilities. Often, there is a likelihood of colleagues referring to the person with pronouns of the gender with which they don’t want to be associated. Workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has been on the rise, especially in the developing countries which have laws prohibiting same sex relations. Research indicates that workplace discrimination connected to sexual orientation and gender identity has an impact on employees, employers, and the overall development of the employment sector. Most developing countries have strict laws on same-sex relations, and there is a need for the enactment of legislation that will ensure the protection of such individuals and facilitate equal treatment and respect.

Literature Review

According to the state-sponsored homophobia report by Carroll (2016), the discrimination of people on the basis of their sexual orientation depends on the legal context of such issues in particular countries. Some countries in the world have developed laws that ensure the protection of LGBT employees in their workplaces, but other countries have laws that strictly prohibit same-sex relations. The homophobia report by Carroll (2016) provides the legal contexts on how the issue of sexual orientation discrimination is dealt with in various countries. An example of the legal stand countries take on these issues is the Greek penal code, according to which it is a criminal offense for men to have unnatural contact, including seduction of a person below seventeen years of age. Interestingly, sexual acts are legal for heterosexuals from the age of fifteen years (Carroll, 2016). Another example is the Botswana Employment Amendment Act 10 of 2010 that added sexual orientation and health status as prohibited grounds for workplace discrimination (Carroll, 2016).

Prejudice and mistreatment of the LGBT society have negative impacts on the economic development of the country. Due to the harassment, bullying, and sometimes physical abuse these people are subjected to, they are likely to experience mental health problems. The individuals will consequently have to seek medical attention regularly. Serious health issues will require increased government funding of the health sector. The increased funding to the area of health means a rise in the government expenditure, which has a direct impact on economic development. Reports also indicate that a huge number of employees leave their jobs due to discrimination. The effects of such issues include businesses losing billions per year as a result of reduced productivity in the company. Countries like Yemen are against same-sex relations, which are punishable by death or imprisonment. Therefore, the people who identify as gays, lesbians, or bisexuals are forced to flee the country, which is a loss of skills and qualification that would otherwise benefit the country in its economic growth efforts.

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Research on the discrimination of individuals due to their sex lives is important because it exposes one to the global happening, especially in the job market. It helps in creating an urge in people to fight for the rights of the LGBT employees and make employers understand that people are different,  and the most important aspect when considering employment is an individual’s significance in the organization rather than their sexual lives. Research helps evaluate the importance of sexual orientation diversity in the workplace. The study provides organizations with a chance to assess the impact of LGBT employees’ discrimination to the progress of the team (Ozeren, 2014). Finally, the research increases people’s awareness on matters surrounding the lives of people who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or transgender, as well as the everyday challenges they struggle with in silence.

LGBT discrimination is rampant in developing countries. For example, the Republic of Yemen’s constitution does not cater for the rights of LGBT individuals. The law is based on sharia laws that have specified punishments for people who practice same-sex relations. Women who exhibit traits of lesbianism are subjected to a three-year jail term, while men receive 100 lashes or a 1-year imprisonment. Sometimes gays and lesbians are sentenced to death in Yemen. The laws governing the country have given the government the mandate to block the websites that advocate for support of the LGBT community (‘Freedom House,’ 2015)

. On the global level, the discrimination of people found to be gay or lesbian is excessively high, and they are severely punished and threatened with imprisonment or death. The Republic of Yemen is against same sex relation in the country not only in the workplace, but all aspects of life. Countries which follow Sharia laws have a very negative attitude towards gays and lesbians, and almost never support such relations. The workplace discrimination of LGBT individuals is higher in the underdeveloped countries like Yemen in comparison to the developed nations like the USA. High-level countries like the United States of America usually have federal laws which advocate for equal treatment of all the employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Human Development Index (HDI) of the underdeveloped countries is low, and this is an indication that many people are living below the globally recognized poverty levels. The HDI for America is high, which means that many citizens are economically stable and have the ability to voice their opinions fearlessly on issues they are uncomfortable with.

According to research by Plug, Webbink, and Martin (2014), gay men have complained about discrimination regarding wage differences in comparison with heterosexual men who earn relatively more than their homosexual counterparts. Lesbians have a pay advantage in comparison with their heterosexual counterparts; the explanation is that lesbians are likely to work in male-dominated areas, which automatically earns them a better pay. Among lesbian couples, there is an almost equal distribution of home duties between partners, so they can afford more time in the office. On the other hand, heterosexual women have family responsibilities that they aren’t likely to divide with their husbands. Therefore, they are likely to prefer to work part time or request less time in the office, which means they will earn relatively less than lesbians. The notion is that lesbian partners have to rely on their cash, so they deserve better payment in the workplace. However, though lesbians have a pay advantage, the household income of heterosexual couples is always higher in comparison to lesbian or gay couples.

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Experiences of LGBT Workers

The biggest challenge to the LGBT community is the lack of laws that protect and safeguard their job security. Many countries, especially the developing ones, have legislation that is against lesbian and gay marriages. Therefore, people who identify as homosexual have higher chances of being sacked or even denied job opportunities. The existence of such laws makes it hard for LGBT employees of a particular country to ask for legal protection in their workplaces. India, for example, has legislation that prohibits citizens from having same-sex relations. Therefore, lesbians and gay men cannot have any legal protection in the workplace from the state (Holmberg & Smith, 2014). The United States is yet to enact a federal law which protects the rights of the LGBT community in the workplace. Moreover, several states are yet to adopt state-level laws protecting lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, which means they can lose their jobs for sexual orientation. Transgendered people feel they are left out of state laws and most cases, so they experience doubled discrimination in the places of work. Yet they have few protection rights from governments if any.

Employees who come out as lesbians, gay men, bisexual or transgender individuals reference high-level prejudice and inequality during job interviews when questioned about discrimination. Research on the subject of people who identify as members of the LGBT community in the European workforce shows that 20% of them felt they had experienced unfair treatment during the hiring process simply due to disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity (Plug, Webbink & Martin, 2014). Some employers discriminate against these people out of a feeling that their presence in the place of work would affect the overall output and employment engagement of the staff.

LGBT employees face a lot of unequal treatment from the society, colleagues. and the management in their places of work. Hence, they prefer to keep to themselves, avoiding interactions in their places of work. They prefer not to open up to fellow employees about their personalities and regarding sexual orientation to avoid breaking the little contact they have and avoid risks of losing their job or even being offered a job. The prejudice prevents these employees from being themselves in their workplace. Thus, they mostly lead a passive life when working. Disclosing their gender identity would otherwise deny them a promotion, which is necessary for their career advancement and better pay. Heterosexual people have also admitted that occasionally they have witnessed the unfair treatment of LGBT employees.

About 10% of employees who identify as LGBT have left their places of work, feeling the environment was not very conducive to them (Smith, Son & Kim, 2014). They argue that it is not right to discuss an individual’s sexual orientation in public; most employers have a tendency of disclosing the gender identity or sexual orientation of their employees once they realize it. Companies will most likely use the knowledge to pin down an individual or as a reason to fire them. When such things happen in the workplace, LGBT employees prefer to leave their occupations in the said organizations as they feel the employer is not treating them right. The employer should be concerned with their skills, qualifications, and talents in line with the job instead of their sexual lives unless it has an effect on their productivity. Klawitter (2015) indicates that 33% of LGBT employees said that they lie about their sexuality in the places of work to minimize or avoid discrimination that arises with identifying as lesbians, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.

The transgendered community in the USA and other parts of the world admitted they often face almost twice the unfair treatment their lesbians, gay, or bisexual counterparts receive in their places of work. Records indicate that about 90% of transgender employees face open discrimination on the job (Klawitter, 2015). In the LGBT community, the transgender individuals have the highest rates of unemployment due to their gender identity, with about a half of them saying they were denied opportunities, fired, or were never given promotions due to their sex identity. Transgender individuals who undergo transition admit that the employment sector is more conducive to them in comparison with the treatment they would receive before the transition.

Impacts of LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace

LGBT discrimination can be seen in two different forms; formal and informal. Formal discrimination involves practices such as unequal treatment in hiring, promotion, the difference in the wages, and others differences in comparison to heterosexual colleagues (Klawitter, 2015). Informal unfairness refers to verbal harassment, lack of respect and acceptance by members, and loss of credibility from employers. The discrimination, either formal or informal, has negative implications for LGBT employees, as well as organizations. According to a survey by World Bank, discrimination against LGBT employees in India due to the existing laws which are against same sex relations is likely to cost the country about $32 billion a year (Plug, Webbink, & Martin, 2014). The statistics are correct because potential employees lack opportunities to give the economy their full potential, since they are either denied favorable circumstance or subjected to unfair treatment in the places of work. Employees are likely to develop negative job attitudes, less employment engagement and satisfaction, which automatically affects productivity.

Organizations that deliberately develop policies and regulations which are non-discriminative to LGBT employees are likely to register improvements in employee performance, increased productivity, and overall success of their team. Achievement of the benefits will happen, because the management has given the employees a conducive working environment which allows them to exploit their full potential at work and have better relations with heterosexual colleagues. The LGBT employees are not likely to quit employment since they get respect and acceptance despite the differences in sexual orientation.

Managers and employers control the running of their organizations. Hence, it is their obligation to ensure that all employees receive equal treatment regardless of their personal lives. The management should let all employees speak freely about their sexual orientation and make sure that it is not used as a basis to check their significance or promotion requirement. The management should take up the responsibility of ensuring a non-discriminative working environment by giving LGBT employees a voice. Managers can achieve this through actions like provision of a platform free of harassment to report and deal with any form of unfairness, as well as involving the LGBT employees in crucial organizational decision making. Such actions will make employees feel appreciated, and it can considerably raise their commitment to work, which will have a positive impact on the organization.

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Management can implement non-discrimination policies in the workplace by diversity training all employees. The training will help create awareness of the consequences of prejudice and negative attitudes of employees towards their fellow LGBT employees. The training will yield positive treatment and attitudes towards lesbians and gay men. Employers need to stop discriminating against LGBT employees, or they will have to pay the price of failing businesses. Management should be at the forefront of promoting diversity in sexual orientation among their workers, whether laws are safeguarding their employment rights or not. The efforts of the administration to practice equal treatment of all employees will have a reflection in the final benefits accrued by the organization economically. Incorporation and adoption of fair and humane policies for the LGBT community can boost a company’s image and reputation, which is likely to attract investors and experienced employment candidates, which give the organization quality employee advantage with less competition from companies who treat the LGBT minority group insensitively. The inclusion of appropriate policies is likely to attract heterosexual employees with great skills who wish for equal treatment of all employees.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Discrimination of people who are lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual in the places of work has been significant according to some researchers. Certain laws, such as the Botswana Employment Amendment Act, are a reprieve for the LGBT community working in the country, because they are assured of state protections against any form of unfair treatment. Companies and organizations should embrace the idea of training all employees, both LGBT members and heterosexuals, on the impact of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. Many countries, both developed and developing, still have stereotypes on the issue of same-sex relations, so they are yet to enact laws that protect LGBT employees against employment discrimination. The unfair treatment is more evident in underdeveloped countries where such people are highly condemned and laws approve of severe punishment of same-sex relations. The protection of these individuals lies in the hands of the government, which has to formulate policies that demand equal treatment of employees irrespective of their sexual lives. States should enact laws which will protect the LGBT people from employment discrimination and hindrances to their career advancements. Measurement of an individual’s productivity in any job should consider their qualificationы and competence, not their gender identity or sexual orientation. Every person should be treated equally and with respect.