Study finds signs of LGBT discrimination among federal contractors

Credit: jpstanley /flickr.

Credit: jpstanley /flickr.

LGBT workers seeking employment with federal contractors are more than 20 percent less likely to be called back for interviews than less qualified straight applicants, according to a new study.

The Equal Rights Center and Freedom to Work conducted a study utilizing 100 fictional pairs of resumes submitted to eight federal contractors. Each pair of resumes included one indicating an applicant’s leadership role in an LGBT organization and one indicating an applicant’s leadership role in a non-LGBT organization, such as an environmental or women’s rights group. With the resume for the LGBT applicant designed to be stronger, including a higher grade point average and stronger work experience, the study found LGBT applicants were 23 percent less likely to receive an interview.

The study comes as the White House continues to prepare an executive order for President Obama’s signature that would prohibit federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Taxpayers should never have to subsidize the kind of anti-LGBT discrimination that was uncovered during this year-long study of contractors with inadequate LGBT workplace protections,” said Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, in a statemnet. “President Obama’s upcoming executive order will send a strong message that government contracts should be staffed with the highest qualified job candidates, and nobody should ever lose out on a career opportunity just because of who they are or whom they love.”

The federal contractors chosen for testing were AmerisourceBergen Corp., the Babcock & Wilcox Co., Fluor Corp., General Electric Co., L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., Supreme Group Holding SARL and URS Corp, due to their lack of nondiscrimination policies, according to an April 2012 survey by the Williams Institute. ExxonMobil was also selected after shareholders voted last month for the 17th year to reject LGBT workplace protections.

Speaking to reporters last week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the executive order is still in the drafting stage.

“It’s my understanding that there is an ongoing process as it relates to the drafting of an executive order that would take the kinds of steps the President has talked about quite a bit.  But at this point, I don’t have any update for you in terms of the content or the timing of that executive order,” Earnest said. 

Obama is scheduled to speak at the White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month reception Monday afternoon.

“President Obama’s executive action to protect LGBT workers confirms that he has advanced fairness for LGBT Americans more than all of his predecessors combined,” Almeida added.

The study released today comes as advocates continue to work to secure the votes necessary to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the House of Representatives after the bill cleared the Senate in November. 

Earlier this month Freedom to Work announced the 218 Project, targeting five members of Congress per week throughout the summer who could be potential cosponsors of the bill. According to Almeida, the goal of the project is to secure a House majority of 218 cosponsors in order to make the case to Republican leadership that ENDA should be allowed to come to the floor for a vote.

ENDA, which would prohibit most employers from LGBT workplace discrimination, continues to gain bipartisan support in the House after Democratic Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.) and Republican Rep. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) attached their names to the bill earlier this month. Eight Republicans are cosponsors of the bill while only eight Democrats have not signed on as cosponsors.

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.