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Top 10 LGTB Employment Friendly States

A new XpertHR report revealed the Top 10 States which are considered the best places for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGTB) individuals to work. The study assessed the states offering the most liberal and friendly work environment for LGTBs.

The study used the following indicators to determine the best workplaces for LGTBs:

- States that prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

- State laws offering benefits same-sex benefits

- States whose companies offer a positive working/living climate

Interestingly, 52% of the LGTB population lives in states that do not prevent employment discrimination that rests on sexual orientation or gender identity.

What’s more, the Northeastern U.S. appeared to have the highest concentration of states, with five of New England’s states being among the top places in the U.S.   The results indicate that these states are pioneers in protecting LGTBs against discrimination in the workplace by mandating appropriate legal protections.  

For the sake of history, Iowa became the first Midwestern state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2009 and it has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2003. The same is the case for Minnesota, which was the first state to implement gender identity protections.

So, the XpertHR’s Top 10 LGTB-employment friendly states are…

1. California

Under California state law, both sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes and therefore cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. In addition, unlike most states, California state FMLA law provides leave and benefits to same-sex couples. Also, a number of California cities and counties, including San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Allegheny County and Santa Cruz County, protect sexual orientation and/or gender identity from employment discrimination.

2. Connecticut

Connecticut state law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity. Furthermore, Connecticut’s hate crime law now covers both sexual orientation and gender identity. Connecticut was one of the first states to recognize the right of LGBT individuals to enter into same-sex partnerships, permitting civil unions since 2005, and same-sex marriages since 2008. Same-sex partners of state employees have been provided benefits since 2000.

3. Iowa

Iowa became the first Midwestern state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2009. Since 2007, Iowa has prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Iowa’s hate crime law covers individuals based on sexual orientation. Benefits to same-sex partners of state employees have been offered since 2003. However, despite the protections afforded LGBTs by law, no companies headquartered in Iowa received a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

4. Maine

Maine has permitted same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships since 2004. In 2012, it became the first state to pass a same-sex marriage measure through a ballot vote. The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Furthermore, Maine law specifically prohibits hate crimes based on sexual orientation and permits same-sex partners to take family leave. Like Iowa, despite the protections afforded LGBTs by law, no companies headquartered in Maine received a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

5. Massachusetts

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to permit same-sex marriage. It was also one of the first states to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (1989) and then gender identity (2012). Massachusetts state law permits same-sex partners to receive benefits and prohibits hate crimes against individuals based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 15 of the companies receiving a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index are headquartered in Massachusetts.

6. Minnesota

Minnesota was the first state to implement gender identity protections. Minnesota’s bias crime law specifically prohibits hate crimes based on sexual orientation. As of August 2013, same-sex couples have been legally permitted to marry. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have both passed legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 16 of the companies receiving a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index are headquartered in Minnesota.

7. New York

New York has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2003 with the adoption of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA). Same-sex marriage has been legal in the state since 2011 and its hate crimes law covers sexual orientation. In addition, same-sex partners are provided with state FMLA rights and benefits. Astonishingly, 59 companies receiving a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index are headquartered in New York, making it the state with the highest number of top-ranked workplaces – nearly double that of California, which has the second most top-ranked employers.

8. Rhode Island

State law bans discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Rhode Island’s hate crime law covers both sexual orientation and gender identity. As of 2011, Rhode Island has permitted same-sex couples to enter into civil unions and, as of 2013, Rhode Island law allows same-sex couples to marry. Rhode Island also extends family leave rights and benefits to same-sex partners. Nevertheless, no companies headquartered in Rhode Island received a perfect score on the on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

9. Vermont

Vermont was the first state to introduce civil unions in 2000 and provide same-sex couples with similar rights and benefits to heterosexual couples. Vermont expanded this in 2009, becoming the first state legislature to implement same-sex marriage. State FMLA law covers same-sex partners and entitles them to leave benefits. In 1990, Vermont was one of the first states to enact hate crime legislation prohibiting hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Sexual/gender identity was added as an additional basis in 1999. Interestingly, no companies based in Vermont received a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index

10. Washington

Washington prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity. State law criminalizes malicious harassment and violence against LGBT individuals based on both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Washington extended benefits to same-sex partners of state employees in 2001. In the November 2012 election, Washington voters approved a measure permitting same-sex marriage. Cities and counties in Washington such as Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Spokane, Burien, and King County, have enacted legislation prohibiting discrimination against LGBT individuals

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