Earlier today, Representative Holly Raschein (R- Key Largo) and Democratic Whip Senator Joseph Abruzzo (D- Boynton Beach) filed legislation in the Florida House and Senate respectively that would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), the legislation would amend Chapter 760 of the Florida State Statutes that currently prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The bill would add protections for more than 536,000 LGBT adults living in Florida.
Despite overwhelming public support and the passage of local equal rights ordinances throughout the state, there is no statewide law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.
“Most people are actually surprised to discover these protections don’t already exist because it seems such common sense,” said Smith. “Updating the law will help ensure that all people in our state have the opportunity to be judged on their job performance and qualifications, nothing more, nothing less.”
Last year Rep. Raschein served as the prime co-sponsor of the bill and helped to secure more than 10 GOP co-sponsors.
“All hardworking people—including those who are gay or transgender—should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our state and should have the opportunity to earn a living to provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear of being fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance,” said Rep. Raschein
With bipartisan support in the legislature and increased support from both the business community and the public at large, the FCWA will make Florida a more attractive place in which to live and work.
The link between strong anti-discrimination laws and the ability to draw the best and the brightest is the reason that 84% of the nation’s largest companies have adopted comprehensive anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Seven Florida companies have received perfect scores on the annual Corporate Equality Index 2015 (http://bit.ly/1uwR2pp) by Human Rights Campaign. The seven Florida companies, each with a 100 percent rating are Akerman LLP, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Darden Restaurants, Florida Blue, Holland & Knight LLP, Office Depot and Tech Data Corp. Four of these companies are on the Advisory Board of Equality Means Business, a program of Equality Florida - Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Darden Restaurants, Florida Blue and Tech Data.
“In order to remain economically competitive in a global marketplace, Florida must provide an environment that is welcoming to all,” said Sen. Abruzzo. “Recruiting and retaining talent regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity will only serve to enhance our reputation and augment our economic viability.”