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Pride Month: How Common Is LGBT Work Discrimination In Florida?

The nation has come a long way in recognizing the rights of the LGBT community, both from a legal standpoint and with regard to employee rights. However, from a review of the research surrounding LGBT discrimination in Florida, it’s clear that the state and the nation have a long way to go.

According to a report from the UCLA School of Law, about 328,000 employees within the state of Florida do not have explicit protection from discrimination under either state or federal law. Documentation within state lines exists in the form of surveys, complaints to grassroots organizations, reports to the media, and court cases. It’s important to note that most corporate employers and public opinion support the notion that LBGT workers should enjoy specific protections in their respective workplaces. However, the state has been slow to change and continues to exclude the LGBT population from statewide non-discrimination laws.

A Bipartisan Proposal

A systemic effort by a group of Florida lawmakers is pushing to change the way the state views LGBT workplace protection for both public and private employees. Under the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, it would become illegal for anyone to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in lodging, restaurants, or any other public accommodation. The measure aims to revise the current Florida civil rights law, which bans discrimination in housing and employment, but does not include protections for gender identity and sexual orientation.

The current bill comes from the House, particularly Democratic Rep Ben Diamond and Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia. A similar bill circulated through the Senate and both have widespread bipartisan support, even among the state government’s most conservative members. Rep. Diamond noted that the proposed Act is not only good for the economy, but also an important step in affirming the basic human rights of the LGBT community.

Relevant Protections for LGBT Workers in Florida

As of right now, no comprehensive, statewide measure exists to protect LGBT workers from discrimination in the workplace. Though the proposed legislation aims to change that, it could be a while until the measure officially becomes law – especially given the Governor’s history of failing to sign executive orders to protect the LGBT population. Following the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Governor Scott agreed to sign an executive order that would protect state LGBT hires. However, he never issued such an order.

Several Florida counties and cities have taken matters into their own hands and passed their own provisions protecting LGBT workers. These include Broward County, Orange County, Palm Beach, and Miami Beach.

Prevalence of Discrimination Against LGBT

Unfortunately, discrimination runs rampant in Florida and throughout the nation in light of a lack of comprehensive civil rights laws. According to the advocacy group Out and Equal:

  • 25% of all LGBT employees reported experiencing workplace discrimination within the past year.
  • The rate of transgender unemployment is three times the national average.
  • Over a quarter of all transgendered people who reported applying for or holding a job reported termination or denial of a promotion in light of their gender expression or identity.
  • 10% of all LGBT employees left a job because the environment was unwelcoming.
  • 8% of all LGBT employees report that on the job discrimination negatively affected their work performance or environment.

Experiencing LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace continues to be a compelling problem for the LGBT population. In light of the current proposed legislation, it’s possible that positive changes are on the horizon. However, the LGBT community may continue to experience mistreatment and unfair civil rights practices until the proposal becomes law. Everyone has a responsibility to assure basic human and civil rights in the workplace, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. If you’re seeking legal advice, contact our employment lawyers today.

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