St. Petersburg, FL - In a victory for LGBTQ Floridians, the agency that enforces state civil rights law has affirmed that discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal. The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) has issued a notice formally announcing its intent to fully implement the US Supreme Court's ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County and investigate claims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
"This is a huge win and cause for celebration statewide. Any LGBTQ person anywhere in Florida who experiences discrimination now has a path to pursue justice," said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. "The U.S. Supreme Court declared that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal and the agency that enforces civil rights protections for all Floridians has made it clear they will follow the law of the land."
The FCHR decision comes in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision in June of that held discrimination on the basis of "sex" is inclusive of discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation and gender identity.
Commissioner Monica Cepero, who made the motion to affirm the Bostock ruling, praised her colleagues for clarifying fundamental protections for the LGBTQ community.
"I couldn't be more grateful to Governor Ron DeSantis for appointing me to the Florida Commission on Human Relations. It is noteworthy that the FCHR has recognized and embraced the Supreme Court's 2020 Bostock ruling clarifying fundamental protections for the LGBTQ+ community. In my nearly 30 years of public service, I can't think of many more significant milestones that I have been honored to be a part of. Discrimination in any form is unacceptable and I'm proud to be a part of a Commission that values equal treatment and has the courage to do the right thing to protect the residents of the State of Florida."
Support for LGBTQ protections has grown steadily in Florida where more than 60% of the population lives in areas where local protections include sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination provisions. More than 83% of Americans support laws that protect LGBTQ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. In fact, the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at updating Florida civil rights statute to prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, has been among the most co-sponsored legislation in Tallahassee for three years in a row.
"When I was elected to the legislature I set the goal of securing protections for LGBTQ people across our state," said State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith. "Today that goal has been achieved. This is a moment to celebrate and continue the work of making our state a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone to live, work and visit."
The move by FCHR comes on the heels of President Biden's sweeping Executive Orderimplementing these nondiscrimination protections across federal agencies and is further evidence of the dramatic swing in public support for LGBTQ equality. In a first for over 800,000 LGBTQ Floridians, the decision provides those who experience discrimination an official state channel through which to file a claim and affords them the full protection of Florida's civil rights laws.
Report Discrimination: eqfl.org/discrimination_report .
Notice from The Florida Commission on Human Relations: fchr.myflorida.com/sexual-discrimination .
NOTICE: On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), held that Title VII's prohibition on discrimination "because of…sex" covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), as a Fair Employment Practice Agency under 29 C.F.R. sections 1601.70-1601.80, investigates employment discrimination under the Florida Civil Rights Act and Title VII, based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin, age, and marital status. Therefore, the FCHR accepts claims of sex discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation for investigation in employment and public accommodations complaints. Furthermore, the FCHR investigates housing discrimination under the Florida Fair Housing Act and Title VIII, based upon race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. The FCHR is committed to investigating housing violations based upon sex discrimination due to non-conformity with gender stereotypes.
On Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden, by Executive Order, indicated that it is the policy of his administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination by having all federal agencies (defined as any authority of the United States that is an "agency" under 44 U.S.C. 3502(1), other than those considered to be independent regulatory agencies, as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5)) review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency action that were promulgated or are administered under Title VII or any other statute or regulation that prohibits sex discrimination. The Florida Commission on Human Relations will be watching for guidance from its federal partners, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that may revise, suspend, or rescind previous agency actions that would impact its current procedures or processes.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. www.equalityflorida.org .