Out at Work – More than one in three LGBT people have been harassed or bullied at work
Out at work?
Those of us who hoped that homophobia at work was a thing of the past will be disappointed to read a new TUC report, ahead of the TUC’s LGBT conference and Pride in London this weekend.
Earlier this year the TUC carried out an in-depth piece of research to find out whether LGBT people were still facing bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
More than 5,000 LGBT people responded to the TUC survey, making it the most comprehensive workplace survey of LGBT people in the UK.
And the findings of the survey are published in Out at Work – which reveals more than one in three (36%) LGBT people have been harassed or bullied at work.
Harassment and discrimination
The findings about harassment and discrimination at work were pretty shocking. Of those who had experienced harassment and discrimination at work, nearly two in five (39%) LGBT workers said the perpetrator was a colleague, more than one in four (29%) a manager and around one in seven (14%) a client or patient.
This harassment and discrimination could include anything from “jokes” at the expense of LGBT people, right through to bullying, or even blocking someone’s career development because of their sexuality or status.
Out at work
Only half (51%) of LGBT workers overall – and just one in three (36%) young people – feel able to be out or open about their sexuality to all their colleagues at work.
And more than one in four (27%) of bisexual respondents hide their sexuality at work. One bisexual woman who is out at work told the TUC:
The TUC research reveals that almost half of trans people (48%) have experienced bullying or harassment at work. One trans worker said:
And almost one in three (30%) trans respondents have had their trans status disclosed against their will.
Britain is becoming more equal and accepting, but it’s shocking that in 2017 so many LGBT people still experience discrimination and harassment at work just because of their sexuality or because they are trans.
Homophobia and transphobia at work is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. LGBT workers told the TUC they are often left feeling ashamed and frightened.
Following this research, the TUC is calling on the government to:
- Ban zero-hours contracts, which leave LGBT workers at risk of discrimination as bosses can just withdraw hours from anyone who complains.
- Abolish employment tribunal fees. Fees make it harder for LGBT people who have experienced discrimination or harassment to get justice.
- Promote LGBT-inclusive equality training in all industries and professions.
- Make sex and relationship education in schools LGBT inclusive to ensure homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are addressed as early as possible.
And employers can up their game as well. Bosses must be clear that they have a zero tolerance attitude to harassment of their LGBT staff – and stand ready to treat any complaint seriously.
What to do if you’re being harassed
Many unions have a network for LGBT staff – and reps who are ready to stand up for LGBT workers facing harassment and discrimination. So if you’re worried about what’s going on in your workplace, you should join a union.
- If that’s not an option then the key thing is don’t suffer in silence:
- Talk to someone and get some support
- Keep a diary of the harassment
- If you can, tell the person who is harassing you that you find their behaviour unacceptable and ask them to stop
- Tell your manager (or a more senior manager, if your manager is the perpetrator) and show your evidence
- Join a union, so you’re better protected at work
- Always take a union rep or a friend with you to any meetings about a formal complaint.
Want to share your experience?
If you’d like to share your experiences – positive or negative – of being out at work on social media, then please use #TUCLGBT