In July the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — ENDA — which would outlaw employment discrimination against LGBT workers — finally made it past the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The Center for American Progress’s Andrew Cray published a blog post focusing on three reasons why ENDA is particularly important for older LGBT Americans. One reason is that older LGBT Americans face double discrimination in the workplace, being subject to both age and anti-LGBT discrimination. Another reason is that employment discrimination adds up over the lifespan, with on-the-job discrimination multiplying into significant later-life income disparities.
These two reasons are fairly self-evident. The third, however, surprised me:
Data on LGBT workers overall show that while only 5 percent of LGBT employees ages 18 to 24 are open about their LGBT identity at work, more than 20 percent in the older age cohorts are out.
Since data also shows that out LGBT employees experience more discrimination than non-out employees, “older LGBT workers are more likely to face discriminatory treatment.” And while that fact may make it seem like older LGBT workers should be closeted at work, Cray points out the negative ramifications of that choice:
And for those who are not able to be open in the workplace, a lack of trust and feelings of isolation continue to take a toll on comfort and productivity on the job and can even result in negative health outcomes. Passing ENDA would provide relief for older LGBT workers, whether or not they decide to come out at work.
The complete blog post is available at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2013/08/06/71553/enda-provides-protections-for-older-lgbt-americans/