In 28 states, it remains legal to fire an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Throughout much of Florida, the LGBT community is excluded from statewide non-discrimination laws. In other words, Florida is one of the remaining states where it remains legal (or at least not explicitly illegal) to discriminate against a worker who identifies as lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual.
Bill Intended to Protect LGBT Community from Workplace Discrimination Fails to Become Law
The Florida Competitive Workforce Act was considered by the Florida legislature, which would have explicitly codified workplace protections for the LGBT community. The bill received widespread support from Florida business organizations, including many chamber of commerce groups, small businesses, and large corporations, which realized the value in attracting LGBT employees. Supporting lawmakers sought to harmonize Florida’s discrimination protection laws to include LGBT workers. Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass the state senate, due to an alleged concern over the use of restrooms and locker rooms by transgender Floridians.
State Civil Rights Act May Offer Some Protection for LGBT Floridians
The Florida Civil Rights Act does not specifically define sexual orientation as a protected class that would create a cause of action if a member of the LGBT community is subjected to workplace discrimination. Nevertheless, some new federal cases have held an employer responsible for sexual orientation discrimination, under the auspices of anti-gender discrimination. In addition to some state laws, a member of the LGBT community struggling with workplace discrimination can seek redress with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Recent EEOC Decisions Establish Protections for LGBT Employees
In 2012, the EEOC found an employee was subjected to discrimination due to their gender identity and that such discrimination is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In that case, a transgender woman alleged that her employer fired her because she was transitioning. The EEOC also filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in a case involving a Florida lawsuit that alleged the College of Central Florida discriminated against her. In the “friend-of-the-court” brief, which was filed with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the EEOC argued that, despite the fact that neither Florida nor federal law explicitly prohibits anti-LGBT employment discrimination, the Florida employee was protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to Towleroad.com.
Local Ordinances Offer LGBT Workplace Discrimination Protection
In addition to EEOC’s broadened interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, cities in Florida have taken affirmative steps to protect LGBT workers. For example, in Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Gainesville there are local ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Fort Lauderdale Workplace Discrimination Lawyer
As you can see, if you are a member of the LGBT community and are being subjected to workplace discrimination, you have rights and can fight back against the discriminatory actions in a court of law. Reach out to the law firm of Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A. Our firm is ready and fully prepared to litigate workplace discrimination claims in court. Our Fort Lauderdale discrimination claims attorneys have handled numerous claims of discrimination and harassment in the state and federal courts throughout Florida. Contact our office for a free consultation.