University of North Florida, Rollins College and Faith-Based Student Group Back the Competitive Workforce Act

– Updating State Law will Strengthen Florida’s Ability to Retain, Attract Talent

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Two institutions of higher learning and a Catholic student group think it is a smart move for lawmakers to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. Rollins College, located in Winter Park, has joined a coalition of 30 major employers in Florida, including the University of North Florida, who support passage of House Bill 33 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senate Bill 156 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach).  The Competitive Workforce Act will update Florida’s anti-discrimination law, which will create uniformity across the state and help attract and retain the best employees.

A March 2015 study quotes John Delaney, president of the University of the North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville, who said, “We’ve lost top candidates because of the perception of the government climate. Some local policies have a wide, confusing array of meanings.” 

According to the Rollins College website, “Through its mission, Rollins is committed to creating a fully inclusive, just community that embraces multiculturalism; persons of color and other historically under-represented groups are therefore encouraged to apply for employment. Our equal opportunity policy is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and we offer domestic partner benefits.” 

More than 300 Florida businesses and organizations are backing the legislation. This includes the Catholic Law Students Association at the University of Miami (UM) School of Law. The association recently wrote a letter to Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami), a UM Law alumnus, to voice the organization’s support for the measure and request the state senator to do the same.  In the letter signed by co-presidents Thomas E. Hospod and Robert F. Riley, they state, “The current lack of anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT people in Florida has the effect of relegating these individuals to second class citizenship.”

“As Christians, failing to act here would run contrary to the most sincere and crucial tenet of our faith – treating others with the essential human dignity that they inherently deserve, regardless of who they are. We are supporting this legislation because we believe and know that it is the right thing to do,” continued Hospod and Riley in the letter. 

With the December 2014 passage of a Human Rights Ordinance, Miami-Dade County became the 28th municipality in Florida to offer fully inclusive protections. As a result, more than half of Floridians live in areas that offer protections for the LGBT community. However, it leaves inconsistencies for employers across the state as well as hundreds of thousands Floridians vulnerable to discrimination. A coalition of some of the state’s top employers, Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, believes that passing these protections statewide is a sound business strategy and will draw the best and the brightest workforce to our state.

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