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Florida legislatures considering update to discrimination law

For several years, the Florida legislature has seen some form of a Competitive Workforce Act hit tables, but the measure has never reached a committee hearing. In 2016, supporters of Senate Bill 120 are hoping that trend is reversed.

The bill is being introduced with bipartisan support in the Senate, which most supporters consider a good sign. In the House, the act is being introduced as House Bill 45, also with bipartisan support. Corporate entities are also backing the bill, including nine organizations listed as Fortune 500 companies. Supporters for the bill reportedly include Marriott, Darden Restaurants, CSX, AT&T, Office Depot, NextEra Energy, Tech Data, Wells Fargo and Walt Disney World Resort.

In addition to Fortune 500 support, the measure is reportedly backed by over 400 state businesses and 27 companies classified as major employers. Florida does already have anti-discrimination laws on the books, but the bill would add some verbiage and definitions to those laws.

Specifically, the bill would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the discrimination laws, making it easier for LGBT individuals to seek protections and report issues in the workplace. In the meantime, LGBT individuals -- or individuals of any sexual orientation -- still have a right to safety and lack of harassment in the workplace. Understanding how to protect yourself under the current version of such laws is important.

While Florida workers wait to see what comes of this new act, protect yourself by reporting sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. If you feel your reports are going unheeded or you are dealing with a hostile work environment, consider seeking outside help to find a resolution under the law.

Source: South Florida Gay News, "Out On The Trail: Republicans Introduce Bills For Competitive Workforce," John McDonald, Jan. 13, 2016

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