Florida Realtors(r) Supports Competitive Workforce Act, Prohibiting Discrimination in Housing, Public Accommodation

– Largest trade association in Florida cites Fair-Housing Laws, Property Rights as Reasons –

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida Realtors® today announced the association’s support for legislation that will update the state’s discrimination protections as it relates to employment, housing and public accommodations. Florida Realtors is the largest trade association in the state with more than 140,000 members, adding vital support to an endeavor backed by more than 200 Florida businesses. 

A statewide campaign led by the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition is building consensus from major Florida employers and organizations, such as Florida Realtors, to promote passage of House Bill 33 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senate Bill 156 by Rep. Joe Abruzzo (D-Wellington). The Competitive Workforce Act will update Florida’s anti-discrimination law, which will create uniformity across the state and help to attract and retain the best employees. 

“Florida Realtors is pleased to support any public policy measure that promotes fair housing and helping Floridians achieve the dream of homeownership,” said Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar, who is a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton, Fla. “In a recent survey, more than half of our members who responded agreed the association should support legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. After reviewing the survey results and hearing from our internal Diversity Committee, the Board of Directors voted to support legislation that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and 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. For this reason, Florida employers are backing the Competitive Workforce Act, which will give the state a competitive advantage in today’s evolving marketplace.

David Hall, chair of Florida Realtors’ Diversity Committee, added that the state association’s endorsement aligns with that seen at the national level. “The National Association of Realtors recently amended the Realtor Code of Ethics to include sexual orientation and gender identity among its fair housing protections. This legislation has the strong backing of Florida Realtors who continue to promote fair-housing laws and property rights,” said Hall, a broker-associate with Coldwell Banker Residential in Port St. Lucie, Fla. 

Currently, 18 states and Washington, D.C. offer housing protections for gay and transgender people. Three additional states provide protections for gay people, but not those who are transgender. While Florida fails to offer consistent statewide protections, 28 municipalities in the Sunshine State protect more than 50 percent of residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

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. The coalition is led by Patrick Geraghty, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville; John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and Worldwide CIO of Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of DTZ in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, respectively.  

The 24 members of the coalition are the AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, CSX, Darden, Florida Blue, Florida Realtors®, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Haskell, HSN, Marriott, the Miami HEAT, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, On Top of the World Communities, Raymond James, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Tech Data, the University of North Florida, Walt Disney World Resorts, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie.

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About Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce
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 Florida 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

About Florida Realtors®

The mission of Florida Realtors® is to support the American dream of homeownership, build strong communities and shape public policy on real property issues. It strives to encourage, promote and teach consistent standards for ethical practice and professionalism; and partner with local boards/associations to provide the information and tools for members to succeed in business. Florida Realtors® is the largest trade association in the state with more than 140,000 members. Learn more at www.FloridaRealtors.org.