– 400+ Businesses and 15,000+ Residents Support Updating Florida’s Anti-Discrimination Law –

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – While the House of Representatives and the Senate elected not to hear the Florida Competitive Workforce Act during the 2015 Florida Legislative Session, support from the business community and individuals escalated to new heights, positioning the legislation for a solid comeback when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2016. More than 30 major Florida employers, 400 local businesses and 15,000+ residents signed on to support passage of the Competitive Workforce Act. Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) introduced the legislation that seeks to update the state’s anti-discrimination law. House Bill 33 and Senate Bill 156 secured 31 co-sponsors in the House and four co-sponsors in the Senate, more than a third of which are Republican.

“While we did not achieve our goal of passing the Competitive Workforce Act this year, we are thrilled with the tremendous progress made in gaining support for the anti-discrimination measure,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce. “As we look ahead to the 2016 Florida Legislative Session, we will continue to secure even more Florida businesses in the months ahead who agree that discrimination of any kind must not be tolerated.”

While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, gay and transgender people are currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections. For this reason, the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition is backing the Competitive Workforce Act, which will give the state a competitive advantage in today’s evolving marketplace.

Competitive Workforce Act by the Numbers:

$360 million is lost each year in productivity and employee turnover by Florida businesses through discriminatory practices.

328,000 LGBT workers in Florida lack statewide protections against ongoing employment discrimination.

15,000+ Floridians have signed a pledge to support the Competitive Workforce Act.

400+ Florida local businesses have signed a pledge to support the Competitive Workforce Act.

73% of Floridians support the Competitive Workforce Act.

32 Major Florida employers have joined the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition. This includes eight Fortune 500 companies: Wells Fargo, Disney, Tech Data, NextEra Energy, Marriott, CSX, Office Depot and Darden.

28 municipalities in Florida protect more than 50 percent of residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

18 states* have passed and successfully implemented laws protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination with no increase in public safety incidents.

12 of the 32 State Representatives who sponsored and co-sponsored HB 33 are Republicans.

3 out of 4 Floridians believe it is already illegal to fire, refuse a business service and refuse to rent an apartment or house to someone because they are gay or transgender.

*Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have employment and housing non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. have public accommodations non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce believes that passing these protections statewide is a sound business strategy. The 32 members of the coalition are Akerman LLP, AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, ChamberSOUTH, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, CSX, Darden, Florida Blue, Florida Realtors®, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Haskell, HSN, Marriott, Miami Heat, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Orlando City, On Top of the World Communities, Raymond James, Rollins College, South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Tech Data, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity, Walt Disney World Resort, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie.

The coalition is led by Patrick Geraghty, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville; John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and Worldwide CIO of Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of DTZ in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, respectively.

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About Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The coalition believes that the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies.  For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.