Business owners favor nondiscrimination laws

NEW YORK (AP) — A majority of small business owners support changing federal laws to prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender people, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The survey released by the advocacy group Small Business Majority found that 67 percent of owners say federal law should prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender workers and job applicants. The survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, questioned more than 1,000 business owners nationwide in April.

But 81 percent of the participants didn't know that under current federal law, it is legal to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay or transgender. It is also legal in 29 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The survey found that 70 percent of owners residing in those states believe their states should also have laws prohibiting gay and transgender discrimination.

Half the owners surveyed said federal laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act should be changed to give gay and lesbian employees the same unpaid leave that heterosexual workers receive to care for sick or injured spouses.

Nearly 60 percent of the owners surveyed said laws that protect against discrimination are good for business, because they help companies attract the best and brightest employees, no matter whether an employee is gay or transgender.

Nearly 40 percent of the owners said they have a policy protecting gay and transgender employees. Among those owners, 37 percent said the policies make it easier for them to attract and retain talented employees. Eighty percent say they have such policies because they believe all employees should be treated fairly and equally.

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