Claim: Map shows states in which employees can be "fired for being gay."
Example:[Collected via e-mail, April 2013]
I saw a map of states where you can be fired for being gay. Is this true?
Origins: The map displayed above identifies twenty-nine states (shown in red) where, according to the accompanying title, "you can be fired for being gay." This map is "true" in the broad sense that it identifies states which do not currently have statewide laws prohibiting all employers from engaging in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but it is not the case that those states are all completely devoid protections against that form of discrimination.
Anti-discrimination laws typically address not just discrimination in the termination of employees but also in other job-related aspects, such as hiring, promotion, job assignment, and compensation. In general, employees who work on an at-will basis may (with some narrow exceptions) be terminated without cause
and without their employers incurring legal liability. However, members of certain protected classes may not be discriminated against in employment for reasons related to the characteristics that make them members of those classes (e.g., sex, race, religion, national origin, age). Since the U.S. has not yet enacted national regulations establishing sexual orientation as a protected class, most employees who have such protection are afforded it on the basis of state laws.
While the twenty-nine states shown in red above may currently lack statewide laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it is not true that all employers in all of those states may freely fire employees "for being gay." Some of those red states have laws which protect public (i.e., government) employees from sexual orientation discrimination (but not those who work in the private sector), some of those states have laws passed at county or city levels which protect employees in those local areas from such discrimination, and some of those states protect public employees from employment discrimination through means other than laws (e.g., executive orders, administrative orders, personnel regulations).
Maps like the ones displayed below present more detailed representations (at both the statewide and local levels) of the status of laws banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the United States: