Equality Florida backs Competitive Workforce Act
Equality Florida 's top priority in the current legislative session is passage of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender expression as protected in employment, housing and public accommodations, the group's deputy director said at a Miami event on Thursday.
Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, talked about his group's efforts during the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce's State of our Community Luncheon.
While Miami-Dade County and many others Florida locations offer anti-discrimination protection for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, some areas of the state don't, he said. The results is that people can be arbitrarily fired, thrown out of an apartment or denied seating in a restaurant.
Florida H.B. 247, which currently has 20 sponsors according to the House website, had a first reading on Jan. 10. It has been referred to two subcommittees and two full committees.
The companion Florida S.B. 340, which has two sponsors, has been referred to three committees.
Businesses generally have been at the vanguard of anti-discrimination measures, Pollitzer said. "Businesses have long understood that, to attract and retain the top talent, they have to have strong anti-discrimination policies."
Equality Florida recently had an event with the Florida Chamber of Commerce , and representatives from JetBlue Airways , Citibank and Pepsi were among those talking about the need to ensure that Florida is perceived as receptive to LGBT workers, he said. The concern is that some talented workers from other states might not want to move here if they don't see the state as welcoming
"If a star is asked to leave New York, sometimes they say, 'no,'" he said. "Having the best and brightest means having good policies."
Pollitzer sees a similar need for statewide protection. A business based in an area with protection for LGBT workers might run into issues if they want to promote or transfer an employee to an area of the state that lacks protections, he said.
Former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, who is now president of the University of North Florida , told Pollitzer he has seen examples of the city's inability to attract talent, "because we are perceived as being intolerant," Pollitzer quoted him as saying. "I've seen what it has cost us and we have to change that."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower and Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason also affirmed their commitment to diversity during their remarks.