Sen. Rouson, Rep. Toledo and Rep. Webb Call for Legislative Leaders to Hear the Florida Competitive Workforce Act this Session

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040, christina@on3pr.com

 

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida Competes today thanked Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) and Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg), for sponsoring the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, SB 430 and HB 485, respectively. This act simply expands the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Sen. Rouson. “Senate Bill 430 will make it clear to those looking to relocate to Florida that they will be given the same basic rights as everyone else. Workplace discrimination has no place in our state and the time has come for Florida legislators to embrace the Competitive Workforce Act.”

“The Florida Competitive Workforce Act reflects best practices in hiring among Fortune 500 companies, 83 percent of which provide fully inclusive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Rep. Toledo. “This legislation makes it clear that all Floridians deserve equal rights in employment, public housing and accommodations in order to thrive in a global marketplace.”

“As a newly elected member to the Florida Legislature, I am thrilled to lead this initiative in the House,” said Rep. Webb. “With unprecedented support last year, particularly among freshmen members, I am confident that Florida will follow the 20 other states that already have similar comprehensive nondiscrimination laws in place. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Florida is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, 35 major Florida employers, and more than 450 local businesses that have all adopted these protections and are now calling on Florida policymakers to do the same,” said Marti Chumbler, attorney with Carlton Fields and member of the Florida Competes coalition. “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 ordinances, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, which represents 60 percent of Floridians who are protected from discrimination. But this process creates a patchwork of protections 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 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.

Major employers, including 11 Fortune 500 companies (10 Florida-based) 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 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.