Statement by Florida Competes related to the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – The following statement is to be attributed to Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Competes, related to today’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing on three LGBT discrimination cases concerning whether existing federal law protects LGBT people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Today, Tuesday, Oct. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases related to LGBT employment discrimination that will determine if federal law protects LGBT people against discrimination. The Court has the opportunity to affirm that all LGBT people should be able to work hard and support themselves and their families without fear of harassment or discrimination at work. Regardless of how the Court rules, our elected leaders must pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act to ensure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Floridians.

Senate Bill 206, led by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and House Bill 161, led by Representatives Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa), Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg) and Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) will bring the Sunshine State into the 21st century by expanding local Human Rights Ordinances, which have already passed in 12 counties and 31 municipalities, representing 60 percent of Florida’s population.

“Florida businesses must remain competitive in the global marketplace. That is why the Florida Competes Coalition, comprised of 35 major employers, 11 Fortune 500 companies (AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo), along with more than 450 local businesses, strongly supports the Florida Competitive Workforce Act to not only be heard, but passed into law this session to ensure our economy thrives. Florida businesses can only succeed if our workforce is as diverse as our state’s population.”

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook 

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Senator Rouson and Representatives Raschein, Toledo and Webb, Urge Lawmakers to Hear the Florida Competitive Workforce Act this Session

September 18, 2019 by admin

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida Competes today recognized SB 206 sponsor, Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), and HB 161 sponsor, Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa), along with co-sponsors Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo), for leading the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. This act simply expands the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include LGBT protections in the workplace, public housing and accommodations.

“Protecting LGBT people from discrimination is a bipartisan issue,” said Rep. Toledo. “Sixty-eight percent of Florida voters are in favor of protecting their LGBT community against discrimination in jobs, public spaces, and housing, and we know that number has continued to grow. This commonsense legislation is pro-business and would boost Florida’s economy. It is critical this legislation be granted a committee hearing during the 2020 session.”

“We are the state’s biggest technology business and the second largest Florida company overall, with operations in another 39 diverse countries. Tech Data knows that to compete for both talent and business globally, we must harness the power of diversity throughout our enterprise,” said John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and CIO of Tech Data and President of Florida Competes. “Florida must protect all its residents from discrimination in employment and in their community in order for the economy to prosper in our state.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, covering 60 percent of Florida’s population. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

“As more people get to know their LGBT neighbors, they come to understand that people just want to be able to earn a living, provide for our families, and go about our daily lives without the fear of discrimination. I’m so proud to represent the LGBT community in the Florida House, and passing this bill is a top priority for me,” said Rep. Webb.

“The time has come to not only hold a committee hearing on the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, but to also pass this good piece of legislation,” said Rep. Raschein. “This bill is good for business and it would benefit employers and employees by offering protections that are consistent across the state.”

“This is the civil rights issue of our time. Senate Bill 206 will make clear to those looking to relocate to Florida that they will be given the same basic rights as everyone else,” said Sen. Rouson. “Discrimination has no place in our state and the time has come for Florida legislators to embrace the Competitive Workforce Act.”

“Employees should only be judged on their workmanship,” said Marti Chumbler, attorney with Carlton Fields and member of the Florida Competes coalition. “Florida businesses can succeed only if the workforce is as diverse as the state’s population. Businesses want the Florida Competitive Workforce Act to be heard.”

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act secured the third highest number of sponsors and co-sponsors during the 2019 Legislation Session yet did not secure a committee hearing in the House or Senate. The bill garnered 74 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors, representing 46 percent of sitting members, of which 48 percent were freshmen members.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo, have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

Editor’s Note:

Polling information cited above is from PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy. The link to the report may be found here.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.  

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Join Florida Competes at the Inclusion Incorporated Regional Forum on Friday, May 17 in Orlando

May 14, 2019 by admin

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040, [email protected]

 

We have exciting news that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and others will be hosting an Inclusion Incorporated Regional Forum here in Florida.

The event is being held Friday, May 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Downtown Orlando located at 304 West Colonial Drive. Please consider attending the free event as a member of Florida Competes.

Inclusion Incorporated is for businesses and partners to learn about building inclusive cultures inside and outside of your organizations. This meeting will assemble businesses, nonprofits, and government leaders to participate and relate over best practices, innovations and partnerships that are steering inclusion and equality in businesses and communities, and how corporations of any size may benefit from these tools.

Hundreds of Florida large and small businesses have joined Florida Competes because they agree statewide LGBT nondiscrimination protections are necessary for growing Florida’s economy and building its brand as a top place to do business. Events like this will get us closer to passing the FCWA, in order for Florida to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

For additional information, including a list of speakers, and to RSVP, please click here.

Thank you again for your continued support. We hope to see you in Orlando on Friday, May 17.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook 

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Mid-Session Update: Time for Record-Breaking, Bipartisan Support to Translate into Action for the FCWA

April 9, 2019 by admin

At the halfway point of the 2019 legislative session, the Florida Competitive Workforce Act has cleared a major legislative milestone, and yet we’ve still seen no movement on this much-needed legislation.

Just last week the pair of bills that would update Florida law to ensure LGBT Floridians are protected from discrimination—SB 430 and HB 485—crossed the 70 co-sponsor threshold, a new record. The current co-sponsor count is 73, with Republican Representatives Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) and Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral) putting it over the threshold.

There are other signs of momentum for LGBT nondiscrimination generally and the FCWA specifically. In mid-March, the FCWA took the title of the bill with the most co-sponsors during the 2019 session, though it’s since been overtaken.

Also in March the Public Religion Research Institute—a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts research at the intersection of policy and religion—released new research showing that a 68 percent supermajority of Floridians want the law to protect their LGBT neighbors from discrimination in housing, employment and public places, which the FCWA would do. These new findings complement November 2018 research from Small Business Majority that found “69 percent of small business owners in Florida believe business owners should not be permitted to deny goods or services to LGBT persons based on an owner’s religious beliefs.”

And at the beginning of the year, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) Commissioner Nikki Fried announced she would go beyond the 1992 Civil Rights Act to protect her department’s 4,000 employees from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. The FCWA would extend the protections of the 1992 Civil Rights Act to all LGBT Floridians and visitors.

However, despite this momentum from lawmakers the FCWA has not secured the support among legislative leadership that it needs to move.

But while the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, 12 counties and 30 municipalities—covering 60 percent of Florida’s population—have passed local laws that grant these protections. However, these still create a patchwork where employees and their families could be subjected to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

That’s why members of Florida Competes, including 12 Fortune 500 companies like AT&T, Citrix, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo, have these protections as corporate policy.

Now, lawmakers need to take action to ensure employees, customers and their families are protected in all workplaces and in all communities by passing the FCWA.

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The Florida Competitive Workforce Act Has A Record Number of Co-Sponsors

April 5, 2019 by admin

For Immediate Release: Friday, April 5, 2019
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040, [email protected]

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – The Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), SB 430/HB 485, reached a record-breaking 73 co-sponsors this week. The Florida Competes coalition thanks Republican Representatives Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) and Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral), for helping push the FCWA over the threshold. This is the highest number of co-sponsors the Florida Competitive Workforce Act has received before the Florida Legislature. With the unprecedented number of bipartisan lawmakers, it is time for the bill to be considered before the Legislature.

“As a Broward County Commissioner, I strongly supported our Human Rights Ordinance to protect everyone in our workplace, said Rep. LaMarca. “As a State Representative, I will continue to protect all Floridians from any type of discrimination.”

“The Competitive Workforce Act mirrors the best practices in hiring among Fortune 500 companies, 83 percent of which provide fully inclusive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Rep. Rodriguez. “This legislation is pro-business and would do nothing more than enhance Florida’s corporate standing in our global economy.”

Currently, House Bill 485 has 56 sponsors and co-sponsors, and Senate Bill 430 has 17 sponsors and co-sponsors – 73 total sponsors and co-sponsors. Passage of the FCWA would not only allow for Florida to remain competitive in a global marketplace, it sends a strong message that Floridians value inclusion, equality and diversity. Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) and Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg) are prime sponsors of the anti-discrimination measure, which simply expands the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and in public housing and accommodations.

“The Florida Competitive Workforce Act makes it clear that all Florida citizens merit equal rights in employment, public housing and accommodations in order to flourish in a global marketplace,” said Rep. Toledo. “When we look at best practices in business, we look to companies that are advanced, lucrative and have the best employees. That’s why so many major employers in Florida have established nondiscrimination policies at their companies and support the FCWA.”

“Carlton Fields is an ardent supporter of the Florida Competes coalition, which is comprised of both small and large Florida businesses and employers who recognize the importance of protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination,” said Marti Chumbler, attorney with Carlton Fields. “The call from business is clear – Florida’s LGBT community deserves an equal chance at employment, housing, and public accommodations. Florida’s economy, and the ability to attract qualified employees, is at a severe disadvantage without this legislation.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, covering 60 percent of Florida’s population. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

Major employers, including 12 Fortune 500 companies AT&T, Citrix, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook 

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Sen. Rouson, Rep. Toledo and Rep. Webb Call for Legislative Leaders to Hear the Florida Competitive Workforce Act this Session

February 20, 2019 by admin

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040, [email protected]

 

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida Competes today thanked Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) and Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg), for sponsoring the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, SB 430 and HB 485, respectively. This act simply expands the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Sen. Rouson. “Senate Bill 430 will make it clear to those looking to relocate to Florida that they will be given the same basic rights as everyone else. Workplace discrimination has no place in our state and the time has come for Florida legislators to embrace the Competitive Workforce Act.”

“The Florida Competitive Workforce Act reflects best practices in hiring among Fortune 500 companies, 83 percent of which provide fully inclusive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Rep. Toledo. “This legislation makes it clear that all Floridians deserve equal rights in employment, public housing and accommodations in order to thrive in a global marketplace.”

“As a newly elected member to the Florida Legislature, I am thrilled to lead this initiative in the House,” said Rep. Webb. “With unprecedented support last year, particularly among freshmen members, I am confident that Florida will follow the 20 other states that already have similar comprehensive nondiscrimination laws in place. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Florida is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, 35 major Florida employers, and more than 450 local businesses that have all adopted these protections and are now calling on Florida policymakers to do the same,” said Marti Chumbler, attorney with Carlton Fields and member of the Florida Competes coalition. “The call from business is clear – Florida’s LGBT community deserves an equal chance at employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination ordinances, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, which represents 60 percent of Floridians who are protected from discrimination. But this process creates a patchwork of protections where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act secured the third highest number of sponsors and co-sponsors during the 2018 Legislation Session yet did not secure a committee hearing in the House or Senate. The bill garnered 69 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors, representing 45 percent of sitting members, of which 57 percent were freshmen members.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies (10 Florida-based) AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.

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Today: Supporters of LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections Renew Push to Pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act

February 20, 2019 by admin

Lawmakers working to protect LGBT Floridians from discrimination and boost our state’s economic reputation are back at the state capitol, ready to renew their push to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

Sen. Darryl Rouson debuted his chamber’s version of the Act earlier today, calling on his colleagues to make 2019 the year this critical legislation goes to the Governor’s desk.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Sen. Rouson. “Senate Bill 430 will make it clear to those looking to relocate to Florida that they will be given the same basic rights as everyone else. Workplace discrimination has no place in our state and the time has come for Florida legislators to embrace the Competitive Workforce Act.”

Representatives Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) and Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg) will spearhead the push for the bill’s House companion, HB 485.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time. Senate Bill 430 will make it clear to those looking to relocate to Florida that they will be given the same basic rights as everyone else. Workplace discrimination has no place in our state and the time has come for Florida legislators to embrace the Competitive Workforce Act.” —Sen. Darryl Rouson

As in previous years, if enacted the FCWA would protect LGBT people who live or work in the Sunshine State from being discriminated against on the job, when looking for a place to live or when seeking service in public places like restaurants and retail shops.

Proponents of the FCWA are enthusiastic about several trends that will give the bill a fresh burst of legislative momentum this year.

First, several election cycles—including this most recent cycle—have showed that supporting LGBT protections have not hindered Republicans at the ballot box. Sponsors and co-sponsors were overwhelmingly re-elected, and the issue has not been one of contention on the campaign trail.

Second, key past supporters are lining up for political leadership positions, giving the FCWA a base of support that it hasn’t had in the past.

Finally, business support for the FCWA continues to grow. The Florida Competes coalition boasts 10 Fortune 500 companies, more than 450 small businesses, and 30 major employers. And polling from the Small Business Majority shows that 73% of small business owners in Florida want a federal law protecting LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations. Nearly 7 in 10 responded that they would support a similar state law.

Florida Competes would like to thank Sen. Rouson and Representatives Toledo and Webb for their leadership on this issue. And if you’re a Florida business owner who believes that our state is more competitive when all who live and work here are protected from discrimination, click here to view current members and sign our business pledge.

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Florida Competes Thanks Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for Including Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Department’s Anti-Discrimination Policy

January 18, 2019 by admin

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 18, 2019
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040, [email protected]

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Florida Competes today recognized Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) Commissioner Nikki Fried for her announcement that the department’s nearly 4,000 employees will not be discriminated against – not only in accordance of Florida’s 1992 Civil Rights Act, but also including sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Thank you to Agriculture Commissioner Fried for including LGBT employees as part of the Department’s anti-discrimination policy,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson, Florida Competes. “This update reflects best practices in hiring among Fortune 500 companies, 83 percent of which provide fully inclusive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Florida is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, 35 major Florida employers, and 450+ local businesses that have all adopted these protections and are calling on Florida policy makers to do the same. The call from business is clear – Florida’s LGBT community deserves an equal chance at employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, covering nearly 60 percent of Florida’s population. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act secured the third highest number of sponsors and co-sponsors during the 2018 Legislation Session yet did not secure a single committee hearing in the House or Senate. The bill garnered 69 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors, representing 45 percent of sitting members, of which 57 percent were freshmen members. HB 347 was sponsored by Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Rene ‘Coach P’ Plasencia (R-Titusville) in the House with Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) sponsoring SB 66 in the Senate.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes, formerly known as the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.

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On The Two-Year Anniversary of The Pulse Nightclub Shooting, Florida Competes Commits to #HonorThemWithAction

June 12, 2018 by admin

Today, June 12, marks the second anniversary of the massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman ended the lives of 49 LGBT people and allies attending Latin Night in celebration of Pride Month.

As we remember the victims, we want to honor them by joining Equality Florida’s push to #HonorThemWithAction, and actively work to stop anti-LGBT harassment, discrimination, and violence in our communities.

For the Florida Competes business coalition, that means doubling down in support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would ensure LGBT Floridians are protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

If you are a nationwide business with Florida ties, or a statewide or local business who wants to use your voice to end anti-LGBT discrimination, sign our business pledge.

On this sad day, we unite with all Floridians in remembering the senseless loss of life—and reaffirming our commitment to building a Florida that is open to everyone, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity.

All hardworking Floridians should be able to live their lives freely, without fear of discrimination or violence.

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Column: Can Florida Compete? Florida leadership remains silent.

May 25, 2018 by admin
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Florida Competitive Workforce Act Secures Record Support

March 23, 2018 by admin

For Immediate Release: Friday, March 23, 2018

Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040[email protected]

45 percent of sitting members and more than 50 percent of all Freshmen signed on to the measure-

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – The Florida Competitive Workforce Act secured the third highest number of sponsors and co-sponsors during the 2018 Legislation Session yet did not secure a single committee hearing in the House or Senate. The bill garnered 69 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors, representing 45 percent of sitting members, of which 57 percent were freshmen members. HB 347 was sponsored by Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Rene ‘Coach P’ Plasencia (R-Titusville) in the House with Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) sponsoring SB 66 in the Senate.

The only other bills which secured a higher number of sponsors and co-sponsors include the following:

86 sponsors and co-sponsors

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders (CS/CS/CS/HB 227 and CS/CS/SB 376)

The legislation passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by the Governor.

79 sponsors and co-sponsors

Texting While Driving (CS/CS/HB 33 and CS/SB 90)

The legislation was heard in the House and the Senate but did not pass

69 sponsors and co-sponsors

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act (HB 347 and SB 66)

The legislation did not secure a single hearing in the House or the Senate.

“It is insulting to the 45 percent of Florida’s sitting House and Senate leaders who signed on to the Florida Competitive Workforce Act that this common-sense legislation was not heard before a single committee,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Competes. “It is extremely disappointing that our state remains at an economic disadvantage after yet another legislative session by failing to update our state’s civil rights laws to include LGBT people. We know that the nearly 60 percent of those freshmen legislators who strongly support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will lead the next generation of elected officials and will ensure that Florida is truly open for business to all.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, covering 60 percent of Florida’s population. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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Session Wrap-Up: FCWA Stalls Again Despite Record Bipartisan Support from 45% of Lawmakers

March 20, 2018 by admin

As the 2018 Florida legislative session drew to a close this month, the legislature again failed to advance the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) in either chamber, despite record-breaking and overwhelming support.

The FCWA (known officially as HB 347 and SB 66) would update Florida’s civil rights laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations—an important step in retaining and attracting business and talent to the Sunshine State.

The FCWA was reintroduced this January, and within nine days already had the signatures of 62 legislators. Ultimately, it would garner the support of 69 legislators, or 45% of Florida’s entire legislative body. A record breaking number of GOP sponsors and cosponsors signed on to each piece of legislation. Ultimately, 57% of those who signed on were freshmen members.

Lawmakers talked a good game about fairness this session — about how everyone should be treated equally, fairly, respectfully, and be able to live without fear of harassment or intimidation. However, it turned out to be just that — talk, with no results. Reforms have been promised for years in civil rights law, but as of yet, those promises remain empty.

Failure to pass the FCWA also hurts Florida from a business standpoint. When we don’t appear “open to all,” we stand the chance of losing out on lucrative economic investments and profits. Already, 450 small businesses, 10 Fortune 500 companies, and more than 30 large employers all based in Florida have sent a letter urging the House and Senate leadership urging them to pass this legislation. The letter stated, in part:

“The coalition believes the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will make the State of Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way anti-discrimination policies have benefited employers.”

This could also affect the looming decision from Amazon as to the location of its second world headquarters. Amazon is on record saying they will not build in a state that is not fully inclusive and does not support the company’s tenets of inclusion, diversity, and fairness. Florida is the third largest state in the nation, but continues to need to gain national business credibility. To fail in such a bid (which would be an initial $5 billion investment and create 50,000 new jobs) simply because of a lack of updated civil rights law would be shameful, and a huge loss for the state.

The bottom line is this: discrimination hurts the bottom line, period. Without comprehensive protections for all, Florida will continue to be one step behind in attracting new business and creating new opportunities. It is long past time for this update to be made to Florida’s existing civil rights law, and yet again, the time has come and gone to make the positive change that will benefit all people who live in the Sunshine State.

Florida Competes thanks the Representatives and Senators who signed on to both pieces of nondiscrimination legislation this session, as well as the hundreds of businesses and employers who have joined our coalition.

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18 Republicans and Counting Support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act

February 5, 2018 by admin

A growing number of Republican legislators have signed on as supporters of HB 347 / SB 66, also known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), which would update the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Currently, 18 Republicans have added their names to the list of supporters. Overall, 40% of the entire state legislature has signed on supporting the legislation, 56% of whom are freshman members.

“The strong bipartisan support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act shows that the issue is not only good public policy, but it is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota). “It sends a strong message to businesses who are looking to expand in, or relocate to Florida, that their employees will be afforded the same basic rights.”

The support of legislators on both sides of the aisle clearly shows that growing our economy are not partisan issues, they are Florida values. Passing the FCWA would help our state be more competitive in the national and international job markets, as well as help attract and retain the best in workforce talent. With Miami as a finalist for Amazon’s second world headquarters, it is important to pass the FCWA as soon as possible to show the company that the Sunshine State aligns with their values of inclusion and diversity, and thereby could stand to benefit from an initial investment of up to $5 billion.

“Today’s marketplace demands we provide an environment in which to attract the best and brightest to our state,” states Rene Plasencia (R-St. Cloud). “This powerful bipartisan effort clearly demonstrates the desire to have the Florida Competitive Workforce Act be heard in both House and Senate committees of reference and we urge leadership to calendar HB 347/SB 66 as soon as possible.”

The list of supportive Republican legislators includes:

Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-St. Cloud)

Rep. Chuck Clemons (R-Jonesville)

Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Fort Myers)

Rep. Tom Goodson (R-Merritt Island)

Rep. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota)

Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton)

Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven)

Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater)

Rep. Amber Mariano (R-Port Richey)

Rep. Ralph Massullo, MD (R-Beverly Hills)

Rep. Mike Miller (R-Orlando)

Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg)

Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo)

Rep. David Santiago (R-Deltona)

Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa)

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami)

Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah)

Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa)

To view all members of the Florida Competes Business Coalition, click here.

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Amazon: Gay Rights Groups Push for HQ2 in LGBT-Friendly City

February 3, 2018 by admin
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Email insights: Lack of LGBT protections might spoil Miami’s chances for Amazon HQ2

February 2, 2018 by admin
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Florida’s City of Miami Could Fall Short in Bid for Amazon HQ2

February 1, 2018 by admin

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Florida’s lack of a statewide nondiscrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity now places the Sunshine State at a competitive disadvantage as Amazon considers a location for its second headquarters. Florida Competes warned last October that the Sunshine State has fallen behind other states by failing to update its 1992 Civil Rights Act. This now places the state at a needless economic disadvantage in a competition that could bring 50,000 high-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment into the State’s economy.

In a recent Newsweek article, Amazon’s 2nd HQ: Does a Lack of LGBT Anti-Discrimination Laws Put These States at a Disadvantage? reporter Christianna Silva shares that Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s top executive joined a coalition of businesses backing a federal anti-discrimination bill to protect LGBT people. In a Feb. 1, 2018 USA Today article, “Amazon’s second headquarters: Gay rights groups say Amazon should avoid these 9 cities,” reporter Elizabeth Weise states that of the 20 cities on Amazon’s list of finalists, nine are in states with no anti-gay-discrimination laws, with Miami listed as one of the nine.

While Miami-Dade County has a strong and inclusive local non-discrimination ordinance, the lack of statewide protections may hurt the city’s chances in what is considered a highly competitive bid across the country. Florida Competes thanks South Florida legislators who have signed onto the Florida Competitive Workforce Act and who understand this is not only the right thing to do, but a matter of economic viability. Members include: Senators Lauren Book (D-Plantation), Oscar Braynon II (D-Miami Gardens), Anitere Flores (R-Miami), Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah), Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami), Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) and Representatives Robert Asencio (D-Miami), Nicholas Duran (D-Miami), Roy Hardemon (D-Miami), Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs), Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and David Richardson (D-Miami Beach).

“Ranked 12th on the Fortune 500 list, Amazon recognizes that recruiting and retaining the most talented workforce requires a great quality of life both in and out of the office,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Competes. “The 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies that are a part of Florida Competes have been embracing these nondiscrimination policies for years, are calling on Florida legislators to modernize state law to ensure our business leaders can continue to build the economy by attracting national and international industries.”

Amazon made diversity and quality of life important components of the bidding process requesting evidence of a compatible cultural and community environment that “includes the presence and support of a diverse population.” The company has actively promoted state and federal legislation on equal rights for the LGBT community and the corporation’s Statement on Diversity emphasizes diverse perspectives: “We believe that diversity and inclusion are good for our business, but our commitment is based on something more fundamental than that. It’s simply right. Amazon has always been, and always will be, committed to tolerance and diversity.”

On October 17, the Florida Competes coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. There is still time this Session to hear SB 66/HB 347 for Florida to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet the measure did not secure a hearing in either chamber. This year, SB 66 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) have been filed, with more than 40% for legislators signing on.

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, covering 60 percent of Florida’s population. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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Gay-rights groups say Amazon should avoid these 9 cities for second headquarters

February 1, 2018 by admin
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Florida lawmakers push for LGBTQ workplace protections

January 19, 2018 by admin
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Florida House, Senate leaders face bipartisan call to support LGBT act

January 19, 2018 by admin
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Lawmakers Want Workplace Protection For LGBT Community

January 19, 2018 by admin
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Bipartisan Coalition of Lawmakers Announce Support of Florida Competitive Workforce Act

January 18, 2018 by admin

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers gathered at the Florida Capitol on January 18 to stand in support of HB 347 / SB 66, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), which would modernize the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity —an important step in retaining and attracting business and talent to the Sunshine State. 62 legislators, 56 percent of whom are freshmen members, represent the strongest number of early signers of the Competitive Workforce Act at a mere nine days into the 2018 Session, and comprise nearly 40% of the entire legislature.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act has been introduced and now as the 2018 session gets underway with unprecedented momentum, both Republicans and Democrats are calling for swift passage of this important pro-business bill.

A lead House sponsor of the bill, Ben Diamond, commented:

“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in support of this common sense reform effort. In addition to modernizing our civil rights laws, this bill will help Florida attract and retain top talent and it will make us more competitive in the global economy.”

Republican co-sponsor Rep. Joe Gruters stated:

“The strong bipartisan support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act shows that the issue is not only good public policy, but it is the right thing to do. It sends a strong message to businesses who are looking to expand in, or relocate to Florida, that their employees will be afforded the same basic rights.”

“This is a good bill for a just cause,” stated Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “When even one person is discriminated against because they are LGBT, Florida’s strong economic standing and welcoming tourist environment is weakened.”

Florida Competes, a coalition of over 450 businesses large and small, has been working closely with lawmakers to introduce and pass the bill for over a year. On October 17 of last year, Florida Competes sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the FCWA be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet neither chamber heard the measure.

“Carlton Fields is a staunch supporter of the Florida Competes coalition, which is comprised of both small and large Florida businesses who recognize the importance of protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination,” said attorney Marti Chumbler. “The Florida Competitive Workforce Act is legislation that must be heard this session, to ensure these protections are in place which would strengthen our state’s economy and communities.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination law, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But this process creates a patchwork of protections where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

To view all members of the Florida Competes coalition, click here.

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