-Senate and House bills aim to expand anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity-
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Today, Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), and Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) with Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville), filed Senate Bill 666 /House Bill 623, the 2017 bills in support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to strengthen Florida’s businesses and economy by updating the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 to reflect the vibrant and diverse workforce of the state.
The Florida Competitive Workforce Act aims to protect persons from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in employment, housing and public accommodations. The protections currently exist only on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, marital or disability status.
“Florida needs to make sure it stays competitive in a global marketplace,” said Sen. Clemens. “Recruiting the best-trained, most innovative workforce means eliminating discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. This makes good business sense, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do. We need to signal that Florida is the best place in the world for workers and businesses.”
“I am proud to file this bipartisan legislation in the Florida House,” said Rep. Diamond. “Young, well-educated workers are looking for diverse and inclusive communities to build their careers. By modernizing our civil rights laws, we can protect our LGBT community from discrimination, and make Florida a more competitive state in the global economy. That is good for our businesses, our workers, and for all Floridians.”
“This issue is critical to the state’s economic success. It’s imperative that businesses, employees and families know that Florida is open for business,” said Rep. Plasencia. “Florida must remain one of the top places in the nation to live, work and play, and by promising equal opportunity employment, and affirming basic human rights to the LGBT community, we can be confident in continued business growth.”
“I applaud Sen. Clemens and Reps. Diamond and Plasencia for sponsoring the Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” said John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and CIO of the Tech Data Corporation, and the new President of Florida Competes. “Expanding nondiscrimination protections in the workplace benefits the attraction and retention of talent and has productivity and morale benefit with existing employees and their families. Beyond the workplace, the legislation is important to signal the international business community that Florida is open for business and values equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Top employers in the state have united to form Florida Competes, which aims to grow Florida’s economy by attracting and retaining the best workers to the state with the promise of equal opportunity employment. 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 450 local businesses on board.
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 benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FloridaCompetes.com or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.