“I identify myself as a member of the LGBT community. I think I have been discriminated against in my job, but mostly I just want to be in a workplace where I can be accepted for who I am. How can I find that great fit?” — Stella from Tuscaloosa, AL
Discrimination in the workplace is still a very serious issue faced by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Currently there are no federal laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination at their jobs, however more than 20 states now have anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT employees. To find out if your state is one, check out the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal websites. These organizations also have resources on what you can do if you have experienced discrimination at work.
For LGBT people, finding a workplace where we feel safe to be open about our lives can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it is possible. When you are looking for a new job, one great strategy is to target employers that have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. Many large companies including retailers, banks, hotels and manufacturers currently have this type of policy. The Human Rights Campaign provides a list of “The Best Places to Work 2011” on their website but there are even more companies there that welcome LGBT workers. Look at the websites of companies you may like to work for to find out if they have this type of policy.
Other LGBT people that you know are also a great resource when looking for a new job. Ask people in your area about where they work or have worked and whether or not they felt it was a safe and open place for LGBT workers. Many smaller businesses may not have written non-discrimination policies but are still welcoming of LGBT employees.
Try not to feel discouraged in your job search. Experiencing discrimination can seriously affect a person’s self-esteem, sense of safety and trust in other people. When it happens at work it can also threaten your ability to make a living. With some research, you can find an employer in your area that will be happy to accept you for who you are.