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Bill declaring pregnancy as protected status awaiting Florida Governor’s signature

May 5th, 2015  |  Deborah Hammonds

A bill that would add pregnancy as a protected category under the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) is waiting for Governor Rick Scott’s approval.

SB 982 would prohibit public and private employers from discriminating in employment based on pregnancy. The measure’s prohibition against discrimination based on pregnancy would extend to labor organizations, joint labor-management committees, employment agencies, and in occupational licensing, certification, and membership organizations. The bill also would protect against discrimination based on pregnancy in public lodging and food service establishments and in places of public accommodation.

According to a legislative analysis of the bill, the fact that the FCRA is modeled after Title VII but yet did not include this provision has caused divisions among federal and state courts as to whether the Florida Legislature intended to provide protection on the basis of pregnancy status. As a result, the ability to bring a claim based on pregnancy discrimination varied among jurisdictions within the state until the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that by prohibiting discrimination based on sex, the FCRA also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy.

The prohibition against discrimination applies to all private and public employers at the state and local level. In the public sector, the bill will apply to state agencies, counties, municipalities, political subdivisions, school districts, community colleges, and state universities.

SB 982 was unanimously approved by the Florida Senate on April 22, and its House by a 115-2 vote on April 24. If approved by Governor Scott, the measure would become effective July 1, 2015.