Groundbreaking report reveals high rate of employment discrimination against transgender job applicants

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015

WASHINGTON – The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) today released a report showing employers appeared to prefer less-qualified applicants over more-qualified transgender applicants in 48 percent of tests that received a response from the employer. The high rate of employment discrimination was calculated after 200 cover letters and resumes were submitted to 50 job openings, with each opening receiving two applications from individuals who appeared to be transgender and two applications from individuals who did not. The study is the first known government-conducted resume testing to focus on discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming job applicants.

“Statistical and anecdotal evidence tells us transgender and gender non-conforming people are experiencing employment discrimination at very high rates, and this testing project confirms that unfortunate truth,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “It is vital that government, the business community and advocates work together to end this chronic injustice affecting the transgender and gender non-conforming communities, both in the District and nationwide.”

Among the key findings from the Qualified and Transgender report:

  • 48 percent of employers appeared to prefer at least one less-qualified applicant perceived as cisgender (individuals who do not identify as transgender or gender non-conforming) over a more-qualified applicant perceived as transgender;
  • 33 percent of employers offered interviews to one or more less-qualified applicants perceived as cisgender while not offering an interview to at least one of the more-qualified applicants perceived as transgender;
  • The applicant perceived as a transgender man with previous work experience at a transgender advocacy organization experienced the highest rate of discrimination among the applicants.

The study was conducted by OHR over a six month period and tested District employers from the following sectors: universities, grocery, retail stores, hotels, restaurants and administrative positions. OHR will initiate enforcement actions against employers in five of the tests in November 2015.

Qualified and Transgender: A Report on Results of Employment Discrimination Resume Testing Based on Gender Identity, is available for download at ohr.dc.gov/page/QualifiedAndTransgender.

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