State Senator Joe Gruters proposes new bill to protect the LGBTQ community in the workplace

State Senator Joe Gruters proposes new bill to protect the LGBTQ community in the workplace
State Senator Joe Gruters proposes the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act

TALLAHASSEE (WWSB) -Florida State Senator Joe Gruters is trying to create a more accepting workplace for employees. He is proposing the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act, which would make it illegal for an employer to fire someone over their sexual orientation.

Gruters said over 350 corporations across Florida have already said they want those types of protections for their workforce.

The bill is similar to the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which some lawmakers have been trying to pass for over 10 years. The differences between the two bills is that the one Gruters is proposing doesn’t block landlords or private businesses, like restaurants or hotels, from refusing service to anyone in the LGBTQ community.

Gruters said this bill could help Florida's economy because without rights some businesses and people refuse to relocate to Florida.

"Sixty percent of Florida is already covered by local bills but what this will do is expand all of the way through statewide and give people the protections they need so if they want to come down here and work in Florida they're going to be protected. It's a simple bill. It's common sense and hopefully we can move it forward this year," Gruters said.

Gruters said he has received some push back from Democrats and LGBTQ groups saying that the proposed bill doesn’t go far enough in protecting LGBTQ members from discrimination.

He’s also getting push back from Republicans saying that the LGBTQ community shouldn’t have these types of rights and from groups like the Florida Family Policy Council, a pro-life, pro-family non-profit policy organization that worries the bill will unfairly punish Christian businesses.

The council is calling for Gruters to resign as chair of the Republican Party of Florida.

A statement from the council’s President, John Stemberger, says, “If passed, this bill will be used as a weapon to punish Christians for simply acting out their faith as small businessmen or private individuals. It also invades the privacy and dignity of female employees in the workplace who are forced to use showers, changing areas and bathrooms with men who claim to be women.”

The council says Gruters is out-of-step with the Republican Party, Governor Ron DeSantis and President Trump.

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