Guest Editorial On Florida's Discrimination Statute
By Gilbert Singer, Chair, Florida Commission on Human Relations
The main issue that appears to prevent the amending of the statute is the apparent ambiguity within Florida’s Civil Rights Act. Legal opinions from throughout the state are far from conclusive in their interpretation of this Act, and in many instances, contradictory. While some courts afford pregnant women remedies for being victims of discrimination, such as job reinstatement or promotions, other courts completely deny pregnant women any protection under the Act.
The Florida Commission on Human Relations fully supported this year’s proposed legislation entitled the “Protect Our Women Act”. The priority within this legislation was to clarify the state law by expressly including pregnancy as a protected class in the instance of discrimination. This legislation would ensure women who are pregnant or have children are given protection and remedies should they face discrimination. Senator Geraldine Thompson (D, Orlando) and Representative Lori Berman (D, Boynton Beach) worked diligently to move the proposed legislation through numerous legislative committees. In the final days of the 2013 session, requests were made to have the legislation withdrawn from a final committee of reference and instead heard on chamber floors. These requests were denied.
The Florida Commission on Human Relations feels strongly on the subject of this proposed amendment to Florida Statute 760, and intends to file similar legislation for the next session. It is essential that all persons vulnerable or at risk of being discriminated against as a result of being members of a specific class are guaranteed protection not only on a Federal level, but by Florida as well.