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Efforts to ban LGBT discrimination likely to be renewed in 2015

It may surprise many people to learn that while Florida law dictates that employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, marital status or disability, similar protections are not in place concerning both sexual orientation and gender identity.

This absence of protection against LGBT discrimination in the workplace has not gone unnoticed by state lawmakers, some of whom have attempted several times to pass legislation designed to rectify what they believe is an unjust state of affairs.

For example, Rep. Holly Merrill Raschein, (R-Key Largo) and Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) have introduced legislation known as The Competitive Workforce Act, which, as written, "prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation & gender identity or expression."

However, their efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful as House Bill 653, introduced in 2013, and House Bill 239, introduced earlier this year, both failed to make it out of the House of Representatives' Civil Justice Subcommittee.  

Despite this failure of The Competitive Workforce Act to progress, it appears that supporters of the move toward greater workplace protection for LGBT employees is still going strong.

Indeed, the non-profit organization Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce recently retained the services of two influential political operatives -- one a Democrat, the other a Republican -- to assist with their 2015 efforts.

The group, which consists of such major Sunshine State employers as Walt Disney World Resort, Wells Fargo, Winn Dixie, Florida Blue and Home Shopping Network, was incorporated this past March and has made passage of The Competitive Workforce Act its primary focus.

While no legislation has been introduced for the upcoming 2015 legislative session, it appears as if it is only a matter of time.

Stay tuned for updates...

If you believe that you are the victim of workplace discrimination or have questions about another employment law matter, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.

Source: The Tampa Bay Times, "Bipartisan coalition to push for ban against anti-gay and LGBT discrimination in the workplace," Rochelle Koff, Nov. 6, 2014

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