What You Need to Know About the Florida Competitive Workforce Act
The Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) is gaining support in the Legislature. Learn what the Act is and what impact it promises to have.
What is the Florida Competitive Workforce Act?
House Bill 33, by Republican state Rep. Holly Raschein and Senate Bill 156 by Democratic state Sen. Joe Abruzzo constitute the Florida Competitive Workplace Act.
The Act would expand the list of those legally protected from discrimination in Florida to include gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. While it is illegal in Florida to discriminate for employment, housing and public accommodations because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, there is no statewide protection for the gay and transgender community.
If enacted, the FCWA would give gay, lesbian and transgender individuals legal protections from discrimination under Title XLIV of the Florida Civil Rights Act. (Note: The Florida Civil Rights Act only applies to companies who employ 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.)
Unlawful Employment Practices
Among other things, under Title XLIV, a company is not allowed to
Discharge or fail/refuse to hire any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of any of the listed categories
- Limit, segregate, or classify employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities, or adversely affect any individual’s status as an employee, because of any of the listed categories
(For a complete listing of all the unlawful employment practices under Title XLIV, click here.)
Remedies for Discrimination
Employees who feel they have been discriminated against on the basis of one the categories are provided with administrative and civil remedies under section 760.11. If, after filing a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a fair-employment-practice agency, it is determined there is reasonable cause to believe a discriminatory practice has occurred, the aggrieved person may either:
- Bring a civil action against the person named in the complaint in any court of competent jurisdiction; or
- Request an administrative hearing
In civil action, the court may
issue an order prohibiting the discriminatory practice
provide affirmative relief from the effects of the practice, including back pay
- award compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity, and any other intangible injuries, and punitive damages. (The total damages are not to exceed $100,000)
What are the benefits of the Act?
Lawmakers believe that the bill will create uniformity across the state as a means of helping attract and retain employees.
According to Raschein: “It’s good for business. It’s good for recruiting the best and the brightest to Florida. We want to make sure Florida is as friendly as possible to all people.”
According to Abruzzo: “Florida must provide an environment that is welcoming to all. Recruiting and retaining talent regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity will only serve to enhance our reputation and augment our economic viability.”
What is the status of the Act?
As of March 2015, HB 33 now has support of 25 co-sponsors in the House, and SB 156 has two co-sponsors in the Senate. More than 275 Florida employers have also voice their support for the bill.
While the bill has been introduced in some form since 2007, it has died in committee each time. During the last attempt, the bill was approved by the Senate but didn’t make it before the House. This is despite the support from nearly a dozen top employers in Florida including Walt Disney Work, Darden, Wells Fargo and Florida Blue. In 2014, the Florida Business for a Competitive Workforce hired a group of bipartisan political campaigners to lead the initiative and help guarantee the Act gets passed.
To add your name to the list of those supporting the bill, click here.
Should you have any questions related to discrimination, please contact us (hot link) online or call our offices at (561) 653-0008. At Scott • Wagner and Associates, P.A., our approachable and knowledgeable attorneys are dedicated to providing skilled legal representation for your unique situation.