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Support for Florida’s Competitive Workforce Act

Mid-January marked a milestone for support of the Florida bill to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. Eleven large Florida employers supported the bill and joined the Florida Business Coalition for a Competitive Workforcewhich was launched at the time of the announcement.

The bill, The Competitive Workforce Act (HB 239/SB 348), according to Equality Florida website, “would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.”

The proposal, according to an article by Steve Rothaus, was co-sponsored by state Reps. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, and Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, and state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington. It would cover the entire state and would eliminate the need “to consult your GPS to know whether you’ll be respected under the law,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. While many Florida cities and counties have laws to prevent discrimination, some do not. This complicates the law and sometimes leads to a man or woman living in a city that has protection but working in a county that has none.

Companies that added their support to the Coalition include: C1 Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Florida Blue, Haskell, HSN, Tech Data, University of North Florida, Walt Disney World Resort, and Wells Fargo.

Supporters feel the financial impact on the state would be positive, as employers from Key West to Pensacola would have access to a diverse qualified pool of workers. Andrea M. Finger, Disney spokeswoman, said it would “keep Florida competitive in the global marketplace for innovative and creative talent.” Rich Jeffers, communications director for Orlando-based Darden Restaurants said, “Prospective employees often decide whether to relocate based on how a community treats its LGBT residents.”

Supporters hope that the coalition of large employees will boost the standing of the bill, bringing more attention to it and leading the legislature to bring it out of committee, onto the floor and eventually to a vote.

For employees living in Palm Beach County, there is currently an anti-discrimination policy for  “sexual orientation, familial status or gender identity or expression. These provisions cover all conditions and terms of employment including recruitment, selection, promotion, transfer, pay, tenure, discipline, discharge, and privileges.”

If you have questions regarding Palm Beach County’s anti-discrimination policy, or feel you have been the victim of discrimination of any kind, contact Scott • Wagner and Associates today.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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