–Legislation would prohibit discrimination in the workplace, public housing and accommodations-
(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) today became the first Republican Senator to co-introduce the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, a bill aimed at protecting Florida’s LGBT community against discrimination in the workplace, public housing and accommodations. Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) and House Bill 45 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) would update the Civil Rights Act of 1992.
“On behalf of the nine Fortune 500 companies, 27 major employers and more than 400 local businesses here in our state and part of the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, we want to thank Senator Latvala for supporting this important and historic piece of legislation,” said Coalition Campaign Manager, Patrick Slevin. “Not only is this a pro-business issue facing our state and critical to its economic viability, it is the right thing to do. We hope this serves as an example for other Republican members to support this measure heading into the 2016 Legislative Session.”
Republican members in the House signing onto HB 45 include Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Fort Myers), Tom Goodson (R-Titusville), Bill Hager (R-Delray Beach), Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater), Mike Miller (R-Winter Park), Kathleen Peters (R-Treasure Island), Ray Pilon (R-Sarasota) and Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando).
Top employers in the state have united to form the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, which aims to grow Florida’s economy by attracting and retaining the best workers to the state with the promise of equal opportunity employment. Thirty-six major Florida employers, including nine Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined, with more than 400 local businesses on board.
In addition to its Fortune 500 members, the coalition includes 27 large businesses and organizations: Akerman, AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, Chamber SOUTH, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, DTCC, Florida Blue, Florida Realtors®, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, Haskell, HSN, Miami Heat, 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, University of North Florida, University of South Florida Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity and Winn Dixie.
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 Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, respectively.
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. The Competitive Workforce Act aims to address this by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law.
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 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.