Florida Competes Thanks Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for Including Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Department’s Anti-Discrimination Policy

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 18, 2019
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040, christina@on3pr.com

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Florida Competes today recognized Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) Commissioner Nikki Fried for her announcement that the department’s nearly 4,000 employees will not be discriminated against – not only in accordance of Florida’s 1992 Civil Rights Act, but also including sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Thank you to Agriculture Commissioner Fried for including LGBT employees as part of the Department’s anti-discrimination policy,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson, Florida Competes. “This update reflects best practices in hiring among Fortune 500 companies, 83 percent of which provide fully inclusive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Florida is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, 35 major Florida employers, and 450+ local businesses that have all adopted these protections and are calling on Florida policy makers to do the same. The call from business is clear – Florida’s LGBT community deserves an equal chance at employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, covering nearly 60 percent of Florida’s population. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act secured the third highest number of sponsors and co-sponsors during the 2018 Legislation Session yet did not secure a single committee hearing in the House or Senate. The bill garnered 69 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors, representing 45 percent of sitting members, of which 57 percent were freshmen members. HB 347 was sponsored by Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Rene ‘Coach P’ Plasencia (R-Titusville) in the House with Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) sponsoring SB 66 in the Senate.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Uber, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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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 benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.