St. Thomas Law Review


Ernesto Rivero

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John Doe is an exceptional firefighter who also happens to be a homosexual. John performs his duties every day to the utmost of his ability; however, in response to his sexual orientation, John is verbally harassed daily, underpaid for his line of work, and subsequently discharged from his position. This is a consequence of practicing his protected constitutional right of same sex marriage at his workplace. Every individual ought to have a fair and inclusive workplace free from discrimination; that is not the case in today’s America. Although employees are protected from discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), courts have been reluctant on defining sex to include sexual orientation. This is the unfortunate reality of the workforce: discrimination based on sexual orientation is not prohibited. Despite the narrow interpretation of Title VII, several states have already amended their laws to extend the interpretation to sexual orientation. Although several cities have local ordinances, Florida has no statutory law in place which protects the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (“LGBT”) community in the workplace. Over the course of ten years, Florida has attempted and failed to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (“FCWA”), placing their own employees in fear of being harassed or even discharged from work for practicing their own beliefs. Amending Florida legislation to include protections for LGBT employees would ensure the highest qualified worker is hired for employment and would undoubtedly boost the economy as a result of solely merit-based hiring. Due to the nation’s ongoing trend, the FCWA should be brought up once again for legislation and become the law of the land in Florida. If the bill is denied, Florida risks national animosity and falling behind the growing global economy. This Comment addresses the proposed legislation by the Florida House of Representatives known as the FCWA. Part II will focus on the history of Title VII. In particular, it will discuss federal circuit split cases in dispute regarding the scope of Title VII’s coverage of sexual orientation discrimination. Part II will also review Florida’s judicial interpretation of Title VII and cases within the state that have granted protection to those discriminated against based off of their sexual preference. Further, Part III will analyze the negative ramifications of failing to pass such legislation both socially and economically. Lastly, Part IV will emphasize the policy behind the FCWA and how its enactment will promote a more balanced and morally sound workplace by creating a business environment suitable for optimal competitive development in Florida.