Even LGBT workers in high-ranking executive positions in Florida can face discrimination or mistreatment on the job. This is illustrated in the case of one former Goldman Sachs vice president who is suing the financial firm after being fired by the investment bank. The former executive was a leader in the company's internal LGBT network and says that when he complained about discrimination in the workplace, he was targeted for retaliation and lost his job. Among other incidents, he said that he was excluded from a key conference call with a client because a supervisor said his voice "sounded too gay."
Florida residents may be aware that a contentious legal debate is taking place over whether or not the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect LGBT individuals. Title VII of the landmark law prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin, but it makes no mention of gender identity or sexual orientation. Lawmakers do not seem eager to address this protection gap and federal courts have made contradictory rulings on the issue, but a recent statement from the U.S. Supreme Court suggests that the matter will soon be resolved.
Companies in Florida and other states are generally bound by the terms of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, appeals courts across the country are divided as to whether it protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Second Circuit and Seventh Circuit have said that it does, but the Eight Circuit has not yet made that determination. This is important for one man who lived in Illinois but was offered a job in Missouri.
Even federal workers in Florida may face discrimination on the job, according to a number of complaints filed by LGBT workers at the Department of Justice. Responding to concerns raised by DOJ Pride, an organization representing LGBT employees, federal Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI to investigate discrimination complaints. DOJ Pride includes thousands of workers at a range of agencies included in the federal department. It had earlier asked Barr to sign a statement about equal employment opportunity at the department and indicated problems raised in a survey of members.
In January, a bill was introduced in Florida that would protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. However, the bipartisan proposal is getting serious push-back from gay rights group Equality Florida because it fails to include protections for housing and public accommodations.
Whether a member of the LGBTQ community can be discriminated against or not depends largely on where that person lives. There is no federal law to protect those in Florida against discrimination based on sexual preference. However, it may be possible to use Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a legal basis to pursue a discrimination lawsuit. Title VII prohibits workers from being discriminated against on the basis of sex.
Florida residents may be interested in news from the U.S. House of Representatives about LGBTQ rights. The House passed a set of rules during the first meeting of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, including a rule that bans discrimination against LGBTQ job seekers and staff members.
Many LGBT workers in Florida may be concerned about their protections on the job, as the upcoming year's Supreme Court docket could include troubling cases. There are a number of petitions against protections for LGBT rights seeking a hearing before the court, although some experts note that the outcome is unlikely to be uniformly negative. Most of the cases seek some form of limitation on LGBT rights or reversal of a lower court opinion upholding LGBT rights. In most instances, the Supreme Court has not yet agreed to hear these issues.
Employers in Florida are required to provide their workers with safe working environments, and they're prohibited from discriminating against prospective or current employees on the basis of certain protected characteristics. They are also required to protect workers from sexual harassment at the workplace. According to surveys compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA, roughly 4 percent of the national workforce self-identifies as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.
In March 2018, the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was beginning the process of becoming a female. The woman claimed that she was fired from the funeral home that she worked at because of her gender identity. According to the court, an employer's religious beliefs do not justify discrimination and that Title VII protected transgender employees. However, how this applies to Florida residents may be unclear after a legal challenge from representatives of 16 states.