Florida Senate - 2012 SB 518 By Senator Rich 34-00387A-12 2012518__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to employment discrimination against 3 the unemployed; creating the “Fair Employment 4 Opportunity Act”; setting forth the purpose of the 5 act; defining terms; prohibiting an employer from 6 refusing to consider for employment, or refusing to 7 offer employment to, a person because the person is or 8 was unemployed; prohibiting an employer from 9 publishing in print, on the Internet, or in any other 10 medium an advertisement or announcement for a job 11 which states or indicates that an unemployed person is 12 disqualified from consideration for the job; 13 prohibiting an employer from directing or requesting 14 an employment agency to take a person’s status as 15 unemployed into account in screening or referring 16 applicants for employment; prohibiting an employment 17 agency from refusing to consider or refer a person for 18 employment based on the person’s status as unemployed; 19 prohibiting an employment agency from publishing in 20 print, on the Internet, or in any other medium an 21 advertisement or announcement for any job vacancy 22 which states or indicates that an unemployed person is 23 disqualified from consideration for the job; 24 prohibiting an employment agency from limiting, 25 segregating, or classifying a person in any manner 26 that may limit the person’s access to information 27 about jobs or referral for consideration for jobs 28 because the person is or was unemployed; prohibiting 29 an employer or employment agency from interfering 30 with, restraining, or denying the exercise of, or the 31 attempt to exercise, any right provided by the act or 32 refusing to hire, discharging, or in any other manner 33 discriminating against a person because the person 34 engaged in certain specified lawful activities; 35 providing an exception for a bona fide occupational 36 qualification; authorizing the Attorney General to 37 commence a civil action for damages, injunctive 38 relief, civil penalties, and other appropriate relief 39 if the Attorney General has reasonable cause to 40 believe that an employer or employment agency has 41 violated the act; authorizing the Attorney General to 42 file an action in the circuit court in the county 43 where the cause of action arises or in the Circuit 44 Court for the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County; 45 providing procedures; providing that the prevailing 46 party in such action is entitled to an award of 47 reasonable attorney fees and costs; providing that 48 damages recovered under the act accrue to the injured 49 party; providing an effective date. 50 51 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 52 53 Section 1. Discrimination against the unemployed; 54 prohibited acts; penalties.— 55 (1) SHORT TITLE.—This act may be cited as the “Fair 56 Employment Opportunity Act.” 57 (2) PURPOSE.—The purpose of this section is to prohibit an 58 employer or employment agency from considering a person’s status 59 as an unemployed person when screening that person for or 60 filling a position, except when a requirement related to 61 employment status is a bona fide occupational qualification 62 reasonably necessary to successful performance in the job, and 63 to eliminate the burdens imposed on commerce by excluding 64 unemployed persons from employment. 65 (3) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 66 (a) “Affected person” means a person who was refused 67 consideration for employment or was not hired by an employer 68 because the person is or was unemployed, or a person who was not 69 considered, screened, or referred for employment opportunities 70 by an employment agency because the person is or was unemployed. 71 (b) “Employer” means a person who is engaged in commerce or 72 industry, or in an activity affecting commerce, who employs 15 73 or more persons each working day in each of 20 or more calendar 74 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The term 75 includes, but is not limited to: 76 1. A person who acts, directly or indirectly, in the 77 interest of an employer with respect to employing persons to 78 work for that employer; and 79 2. A successor in interest of an employer. 80 (c) “Employment agency” means a business that regularly 81 procures, with or without compensation, employees for an 82 employer or job opportunities for an individual seeking 83 employment and includes, but is not limited to, an agent of the 84 employment agency and an individual who maintains an Internet 85 website that publishes advertisements or announcements of job 86 openings. 87 (d) “Unemployed” means a person’s present or past 88 unemployment, regardless of the length of time the person was 89 unemployed. 90 (4) EMPLOYERS.—An employer may not: 91 (a) Refuse to consider for employment or refuse to offer 92 employment to a person because the person is or was unemployed. 93 (b) Publish in print, on the Internet, or in any other 94 medium an advertisement or announcement for a job which 95 includes: 96 1. A provision stating or indicating that an unemployed 97 person is disqualified from consideration for the job; 98 2. A provision stating or indicating that an employer will 99 not consider an unemployed applicant for employment; or 100 3. A directive or request that an employment agency take a 101 person’s status as unemployed into account in screening or 102 referring applicants for employment. 103 (5) EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES.—An employment agency may not: 104 (a) Refuse to consider or refer a person for employment 105 based on the fact that the person is or was unemployed; 106 (b) Limit, segregate, or classify a person in a manner that 107 may limit the person’s access to information about a job or 108 referral for consideration for a job because that person is or 109 was unemployed; or 110 (c) Publish in print, on the Internet, or in another medium 111 an advertisement or announcement for a job vacancy which 112 includes a provision stating or indicating that: 113 1. An unemployed person is disqualified from consideration 114 for the job; or 115 2. An employer will not consider an unemployed person for 116 employment. 117 (6) INTERFERENCE WITH RIGHTS, PROCEEDINGS, OR INQUIRIES.—An 118 employer or employment agency may not: 119 (a) Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or 120 the attempt to exercise, a right provided by this section; or 121 (b) Refuse to hire, to discharge, or in another manner to 122 discriminate against a person because the person: 123 1. Opposed any practice made unlawful by this section; 124 2. Has filed a charge, or has instituted or caused to be 125 instituted a proceeding, under or related to this section; 126 3. Has given, or is about to give, information in 127 connection with an inquiry or proceeding relating to a right 128 provided under this section; or 129 4. Has testified, or is about to testify, in an inquiry or 130 proceeding relating to a right provided under this section. 131 (7) BONA FIDE OCCUPATIONAL QUALIFICATION.—Notwithstanding 132 any other provision of law, consideration by an employer or 133 employment agency of a person’s status as unemployed is not an 134 unlawful employment practice if a person’s employment in a 135 similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate 136 to the hiring of the person is a bona fide occupational 137 qualification reasonably necessary to successful performance of 138 the job that is being filled. 139 (8) CIVIL ACTION BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.— 140 (a) The Attorney General may commence a civil action for 141 damages, injunctive relief, civil penalties not to exceed 142 $10,000 per violation, and such other relief as may be 143 appropriate under the laws of this state if the Attorney General 144 has reasonable cause to believe that an employer or employment 145 agency has violated this section. 146 (b) The Attorney General may file an action under this 147 subsection in the circuit court of the county in which the cause 148 of action arises or in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial 149 Circuit in Leon County. 150 (c) In any proceeding under this subsection, the respondent 151 may request, before any responsive pleading is due, that a 152 hearing be held no earlier than 5 days but no more than 30 days 153 after the filing of the complaint. The court shall determine at 154 that hearing whether the complaint on its face makes a prima 155 facie showing that a pattern or practice of discrimination 156 exists or that, as a result of discrimination, an issue of great 157 public interest exists. 158 (d) The prevailing party in an action brought under this 159 subsection is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees 160 and costs. 161 (e) Damages recovered under this subsection shall accrue to 162 the injured party. 163 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.