Discrimination Charge Rates and State Laws

Twenty-two states and Washington, DC currently have state laws in place protecting against sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination (our data predates the recent change in New Hampshire that just added protections against gender identity discrimination). Between 2012 and 2016, the number of charges per 100,000 LGBT individuals was approximately 20% higher in states with SOGI protections than in the states without them. We might expect the SOGI-protection states to have lower rates of discrimination: laws are more likely to pass in more tolerant states, less discrimination is likely to occur in more tolerant states, and enforcement of the law is likely to reduce discrimination. Even if the level of discrimination is the same in both sets of states, the difference in charge rates suggests more people in non-SOGI law states would file charges if federal law or state law made the ban on SOGI discrimination more explicit and, therefore, more visible.