1 in 5 LGBTQ workers is afraid to take caregiver leave because it might disclose their identity
- One in five LGBTQ employees is afraid to request time off to care for a loved one because it might disclose their LGBTQ identity, according to a Human Rights Campaign report released on the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- The group says this information highlights the need for a federal nondiscrimination law protecting workers from adverse employment actions based on LGBTQ identity.
- The survey also found that 48% of respondents indicated that they feel an increased responsibility to care for loved ones whose own families have rejected them because of their LGBTQ identities — a critical caretaking role often excluded from leave policies, HRC says.
LGBTQ employees have the same personal responsibilities as other workers, with HRC noting that they sometimes have even more. But without nondiscrimination protections in the workplace, individuals remain reluctant to disclose their LGBTQ identities. One federal appeals court has held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees (it takes the position that gender identity is covered, too); other appeals courts, however, have not followed suit.
Regardless, employment attorneys are urging businesses to refrain from discriminating against applicants and employees based on their sexual orientation and to address harassment as they would for protected characteristics.
Moreover, employers with inclusive leave policies will be in a better position to attract and retain talent from the LGBTQ community; as a bonus, studies show that inclusiveness has bottom-line and innovation advantages for employers.