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.
Despite the fact that lots of Florida companies proclaim their LGBT-friendly credentials, many LGBT workers choose to stay closeted on the job. While there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon, one of the most common and well-founded is the fear of discrimination. For example, in the federal government, the Obama administration hosted Pride celebrations and officials spoke frequently about LGBT right and expanded benefits. But with the change to the Trump administration, political appointees regularly argue against LGBT rights, pushing many federal workers back into the closet.
Supporters of rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender people in Florida got good news from two recent cases concerning workplace discrimination. Both rulings disallowed discrimination against transgender or gay people at their jobs on the basis of religious faith. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th and 8th Circuits applied the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act so that it protected people perceived by employers to not meet gender stereotypes.
Some Florida residents might have heard about a controversial so-called "bathroom bill" in North Carolina that dealt with access to bathrooms for transgender people. The bill resulted in some events being pulled from the state. The transgender woman who filed a lawsuit regarding the bill that replaced that one in March has alleged that she faced discrimination in her job at a Sam's Club, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. in New York has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart on her behalf.
People who have faced discrimination at work due to their sexual orientation in Florida and across the country may be concerned after a filing by the Department of Justice. The filing argues that discrimination based on sexual orientation cannot be characterized as sex discrimination.
Transgender issues have been a hot topic in Florida and across the U.S. in recent years. Last fall, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a Virginia transgender student who wants to use the boys' bathroom in his high school. The case is the latest example of a federal court taking the lead on LGBT legal issues when other courts continue to struggle. The case and others like it are shaping the way employers must deal with transgender rights within the workplace.
Florida residents may have noticed the many changes brought about by the Trump administration, and more alterations could be coming with regards to employment protections. Speculation has begun about whether it will remove language barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
People in Florida who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be worried about seeing an erosion of the civil rights they gained in recent years. When Donald Trump takes office as president, he could fulfill his promise to nullify executive orders made by his predecessor. Such actions could include ending the protections granted to LGBT federal workers.