Coalition of Major Florida Employers Applaud Filing of Anti-Discrimination Legislation for 2016 Session by Sen. Abruzzo and Rep. Raschein

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida State Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) and State Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) today filed legislation that will modernize Florida’s anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While 55% of Floridians already live in places that include these protections, the bill would create a uniform law across the state, a move that major employers say is necessary for Florida to attract and retain talent and new jobs. The bill, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, is supported by the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce (FBCW) coalition comprised of 34 large employers, including Fortune 500 companies, and more than 400 local businesses.

“Business leaders across Florida applaud Sen. Abruzzo and Rep. Raschein for filing this fundamental piece of legislation that will signal Florida as an inclusive state where success is determined by hard work, and not held back by legally sanctioned discrimination,” said coalition president Patrick Geraghty, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Florida Blue.

“In order to remain economically competitive in a global marketplace, 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,” said Sen. Abruzzo.

Representative Raschein emphasized the need to end the patchwork quilt of protections where local protections may exist in one community but not the next. “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, while bolstering a competitive advantage in today’s evolving marketplace,” said Rep. Raschein.

The link between strong anti-discrimination laws and the ability to draw quality employees is the reason that 84 percent of the nation’s largest companies have adopted comprehensive anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. In fact, twenty-five Fortune 1000 companies based in Florida prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 14 Fortune 1000 companies based in Florida also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the gay and transgender community is currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections. There are currently 32 Florida counties and municipalities who have passed anti-discrimination measures against the LGBT community, representing 55 percent of Florida residents.

The FBCW coalition of businesses is calling on Florida lawmakers to make the Sunshine State a leader by making it a place where gay and transgender people can live, work and visit without fear of discrimination. The time is now for the Sunshine State to show it does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in the workplace, and in housing and public accommodations.

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About Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition (FBCW) 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 or expression. 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 benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies.  For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.

FBCW Coalition Members / Florida Fortune 500 and Major Companies:

Akerman, AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, Chamber SOUTH, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, CSX, Darden, Florida Blue, Florida Realtors®, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, Haskell, HSN, Marriott, Miami Heat, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Orlando City, On Top of the World Communities, Pointe Group Advisors, Raymond James, Rollins College, South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Tech Data, University of North Florida, University of South Florida Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity, Walt Disney World Resort, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie. For a list of the more than 400 local Florida businesses, go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com.

Florida Counties and Municipalities with Human Rights Ordinances in place:

Counties – Alachua, Broward, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Volusia. Municipalities – Atlantic Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Dunedin, Gainesville, Greenacres, Gulfport, Key West, Lake Worth, Largo, Leesburg, Miami Beach, Miami, Oakland Park, Orlando, St. Augustine Beach, Sarasota, Tampa, Tequesta, Venice, Wilton Manors, and West Palm Beach. The population of these counties and municipalities with HRO protections already in place represent 10.5 million of Florida’s 19 million residents, or 55 percent.