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In the US, however, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals do not have federal employment protections. Fewer than half the states do. Thus, in most states, including Texas, it is legally permissible to not hire someone, fire someone, pay them less, or pass them over for promotion because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Laura Barron, of the US Air Force, and Mikki Hebl, of Rice University, conducted a series of studies to examine the effects of such laws on employment discrimination.
In their first study, they contacted households, some of which were in areas offering employment protections and some of which were not, and asked about awareness of the laws.
In the second study, they examined employment discrimination against job applicants who were ostensibly LGBT, collecting data in cities that offered employment protections and in those that did not.
In the third analysis, they asked participants to interview an applicant who the interviewer believed was lesbian. Prior to interviewing, the participants were led to believe that their city either did or did not have employment protections based on LGBT status.
Barron and Hebl had three primary findings. First, people were more aware of employment laws when their cities had such provisions. In addition, the presence of LGBT employment protections decreased discriminatory behaviors, and third, even when researchers randomly assigned employment protections (such as in the third study), discrimination decreases.
The findings show the important role that LGBT-related legislation and ordinances can have in reducing discrimination. The laws can reduce mistreatment, and as a result, ensure equal opportunities for all job applicants.