The last several years have seen huge steps forward in the rights of LGBT Americans. Marriage equality, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and countless advances in cultural acceptance have ushered in a new era for many LGBT people.
What most people don't understand, however, is that this same population often remains unprotected in the workplace. In Florida, there is no state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
This isn't to say that all LGBT employees remain at risk. Many employers have their own internal nondiscrimination policies that are more expansive than state law. In fact, nine Florida companies recently received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. The HRC is the nation's largest LGBT rights advocacy group.
Additionally, Florida lawmakers are considering legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that are protected under state nondiscrimination law. Advocates of the legislation note that while protecting LGBT employees is the right thing to do, it will also have the benefit of strengthening Florida's business community by making the state more appealing to workers.
Options for LGBT employees
The lack of state law protections for LGBT employees doesn't mean that workers have to stand idly by and let discrimination happen. In some cases, local laws or company policies may provide a basis for aggrieved employees to take action. In others, the discriminatory conduct may fall under a broader umbrella, such a sexual harassment or gender discrimination.
If you or a loved on has been treated unfairly at work on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, it is worth your while to investigate your options. Schedule a consultation with a Florida employment law attorney to learn more.