Osceola County Votes to Protect LGBT Community from Workplace, Housing and Public Accommodations Discrimination

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Osceola County Votes to Protect LGBT Community from Workplace, Housing and Public Accommodations Discrimination

-Major Florida Employers Support Competitive Workforce Act Legislation for Statewide Protections-

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition today applauded the Osceola County Commission for their unanimous vote Monday evening to become Florida’s 11th county to provide protections for gay and transgender Floridians from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.

“Thirty-three Florida counties and municipalities now offer anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community, allowing for residents to live and work without fear of being fired,” said Patrick Slevin, campaign manager for the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition. “The time is now for the Sunshine State to pass statewide legislation so all LGBT Floridians are protected, which is why 34 large employers and more than 400 local businesses have signed onto a petition supporting the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.”

Florida State Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) and State Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) filed Senate Bill 120 and House Bill 45 respectively that will modernize Florida’s anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, is supported by the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce (FBCW) coalition comprised of 34 large employers, including Fortune 500 companies, and more than 400 local businesses.

Fifty-five percent of Floridians already live in places that include these protections. The bill would create a uniform law across the state, a move that major employers say is necessary for Florida to attract and retain talent and new jobs. Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce believes that passing these protections statewide is a sound business strategy and will give the state a competitive advantage in today’s evolving marketplace.

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, gay and transgender people are currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections.

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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.

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. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.

FBCW Coalition Members / Florida Fortune 500 (8) and Major Companies (26):
Fortune 500 – CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo. Major Companies – Akerman, AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, Chamber SOUTH, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, 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. For a list of the more than 400 local Florida businesses, go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com.

Florida Counties (11) and Municipalities (22) with Human Rights Ordinances in place:
Counties – Alachua, Broward, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Volusia. Municipalities – Atlantic Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Dunedin, Gainesville, Greenacres, Gulfport, Key West, Lake Worth, Largo, Leesburg, Miami Beach, Miami, Oakland Park, Orlando, St. Augustine Beach, Sarasota, Tampa, Tequesta, Venice, Wilton Manors, and West Palm Beach. The population of these counties and municipalities with HRO protections already in place represent 10.5 million of Florida’s 19 million residents, or 55 percent.