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Florida again considering LGBT anti-discrimination bill

Florida is considering a LGBT anti-discrimination bill.

In January 2015, through the judicial process, same-sex marriage finally became legal in Florida. Despite this major step toward equality for the LGBT community, Florida state anti-discrimination law does not protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents from discrimination in state workplaces, although an individual may be covered by a city or county ordinance that offers such protection locally.

The federal picture

Federal civil rights laws also do not include sexual orientation or transgender status as protected classes against employment discrimination (although at least one federal court and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC have said that transgender discrimination falls under illegal sex discrimination).

Local protections

According to Florida Competes, an advocacy organization seeking to pass statewide protections, more than half of Floridians are protected by a patchwork of local civil rights ordinances from such discrimination in employment in counties like Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Palm Beach and more, and cities like Miami, Miami Beach, Key West and more.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act

However, a movement is gaining traction to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes of people protected from employment discrimination on a statewide basis. While this bill has been introduced several times before without passage, support is picking up among major employers and the business community.

For example, over 200 businesses of all sizes have formed Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, a coalition affiliated with Florida Competes to campaign for passage of the law. The bill has some bipartisan support, having been introduced by Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, in the Florida House and Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, in the Florida Senate.

Seek out a legal advocate

The proposed bill as of this writing is being considered in committees in both houses of the state legislature. Many will watch with keen interest to see whether it is brought to a floor vote and ultimately passes, but in the meantime, any Floridian who feels he or she has been discriminated against at work or in hiring on the basis of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or because of gender identity or expression, should speak with an experienced employment law attorney about what legal remedies may be available to him or her already.

Other possible legal remedies

Even without federal or statewide protection, here are some examples of potential legal claims for LGBT victims of employment discrimination in Florida, depending on the circumstances:

  • Same-sex sexual harassment
  • Breach of employment contract
  • Illegal discrimination under local ordinances
  • State law tort claims like defamation, battery, assault, invasion of privacy and others
  • And more

In South Florida, The Amlong Firm in Fort Lauderdale has a long, proud history of fighting for its LGBT clients against discrimination at work.

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