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Study looks at conditions for gay and lesbian workers

Some New York workers may be interested in a recent study that looked at how sexual orientation affects people in the workplace. The United States, Australia, Canada and some European Union countries are among the few places that have legislation in place protecting employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. However, even in those countries, the IZA World of Labor study indicated that gay people may face some workplace discrimination.

According to the study, in the United States, gay men earn 12 to 16 percent less than heterosexual men who have the same skill set. On the other hand, lesbians in the United States earn 15 to 20 percent more than their heterosexual female counterparts. Experts surmise this may be because lesbian women have fewer children and are less likely to follow gender roles in the household. This means they are able to follow a career trajectory that involves working longer hours, spending more time on education and entering male-dominated professions.

Worldwide, the study found that gay and lesbian employees who have publicly revealed their sexual identity are happier with their jobs than those who remain closeted. The study's author suggested that there should be more policies in place to ensure that gay and lesbian employees do not face discrimination and harassment and are supported in the workplace.

Gay and lesbian individuals who feel that they have faced discrimination in the workplace are legally protected under federal law. Generally, the first step an individual should take in such a situation is trying to resolve it through a supervisor, human resources or other channels in the workplace. However, if the workplace is not responsive or the employee faces retaliation as a result of the report, an employment law attorney may suggest filing a claim with the appropriate government agency.

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