Every Florida employee has the right to work in an environment that is free from discriminatory and unfair treatment. Unfortunately, employers often treat workers differently due to their perceived sexual orientation. LGBT discrimination can take many forms, and victims may not be certain of their rights or what to do next if they experience it in their workplace. It can be helpful to know how to spot this type of discrimination and how to fight back.
In a recent and landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated protections for LGBTQ workers. These workers now have federal protection against discrimination at work, making it illegal for employers to discriminate because of sexual orientation, transgender status and a workers' sex. This ruling represents a major victory for those who have been advocating for the rights for these workers for decades. The court upheld rulings from lower courts declaring that discrimination due to sexual orientation was a violation of employment laws.
In the last few months, Florida health care workers have been on the front lines of fighting a very serious public health concern. In order to do their jobs, they've had to give up their own safety, often without the proper protective gear. Unfortunately, LGBTQ workers who are actively engaged in this very important fight also face the possibility of losing their jobs in certain states, thanks to a lack of certain protections and discrimination at work.
Prominent coffee shops and restaurants may be found in airports in Florida and across the country. Some Starbucks employees, however, allege that they do not receive protection from discrimination in airport locations, even when the company touts its practices at its traditional corporate stores. Starbucks has produced advertisements promoting its shops as friendly spaces for transgender people, including customers and employees. However, multiple transgender employees at Starbucks locations found in airports say that they were discriminated against based on their race and gender identity.
Technically, it is not illegal for Florida employers and others to discriminate against workers based on their sexual orientation. However, federal employees may have protection against discrimination based on an existing executive order. Those who work in states or cities where no specific anti-LGBT legislation is in place may have other remedies if they are mistreated on the job. For instance, it may be possible to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against anyone who engages in certain types of activities at work.
Two legislators, a Republican and Democrat, have each filed bills that intend to add legal protections for LGBTQ people in Florida. Currently, state law only prohibits discrimination motivated by sexual, racial or ethnic prejudices. No state-level legal protections currently exist to protect against sexual orientation discrimination in regard to housing, public lodging or employment.
In Florida and other states across the U.S., the laws surrounding LGBTQ discrimination at work are murky. It's a civil rights violation if a person is penalized for their sexual orientation. Still, some employers discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Many members of the LGBTQ community in Florida face workplace discrimination. While gender discrimination is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled whether discrimination against gay and transgender people is a form of prohibited sex-based discrimination.
Those who are transgender or otherwise don't conform to gender stereotypes may face discrimination in the workplace. However, employers in Florida may face limited consequences for doing so. This is because there is no federal law that prohibits them from harassing employees or making employment decisions based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the Justice Department, current anti-discrimination laws do not apply in these cases.
Some of the largest corporations in Florida and the rest of the nation are urging the Supreme Court to rule that civil rights laws protect employees against discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity. These companies, in conjunction with several LGBTQ advocacy groups, submitted a brief to the court to support their argument. They hope to influence several civil rights cases coming up in October 2019.