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Florida lawmakers consider many anti-discrimination bills: Part I

Last month, we wrote that a state legislator has introduced a bill called the Competitive Workforce Act that seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in all Florida workplaces. The bill also applies to gender identity or expression discrimination.

This would be a significant step forward for GLBT rights. Currently, many in Florida's GLBT community are protected under local ordinances banning discrimination but unless the law is passed, there is no statewide protection.

As it happens, this is just one of many employment discrimination bills being considered by state lawmakers. At least four other pieces of legislation have been introduced; all with the common goal of prohibiting employment discrimination and putting more Floridian's back to work.

The second major bill that was just introduced would bar employers from discriminating against new job applicants based on their current employment status. In July, we wrote that a growing number of businesses were posting job ads that specified applicants "must be currently employed."

But during the deep recession of the last few years, joblessness has affected a staggering number of qualified employees. That's why State Senator Nan Rich introduced a bill to outlaw this practice in Florida.

Rich's bill starts by prohibiting companies from stating or indicating in their job ads that currently unemployed candidates will be disqualified from consideration. This practice would be forbidden regardless of the medium used to announce the job opening.

The bill also makes it illegal for companies to disqualify an applicant because of their job status or to ask employment agencies to use that information as a screening or referral tool. If the law passes, companies who engage in such practices would face penalties.

Check back later this week as we continue our discussion about promising new employment-related legislation in Florida.

Source: The Florida Independent, "Legislators roll out bills to end employment discrimination," Ashley Lopez, Nov. 1, 2011

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