Today, July 1, 2015, two laws go into effect in Florida which may be of interest to employers and places of public accommodation: 

  • Service Animals: Florida’s service animal law has been amended to expand protection for individuals with disabilities who are assisted by service animals in places of public accommodation. See Fla. Stat. § 413.08 (2015). The purpose of the new law is to bring Florida’s service animal law in line with the most recent amendments to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and to add penalties both for those entities who fail to accommodate service animals and for those individuals who falsely represent themselves as using a service animal. You can find more information about the new service animal law here.  
  • Pregnancy Discrimination: Florida has amended the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) to specifically include pregnancy as a protected class. See Fla. Stat. Ch. 760. Prior to this change, pregnant workers who raised claims of discrimination had to do so based on their sex, which  lead to inconsistent decisions in Florida’s appellate courts. In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court resolved this conflict in a case ruling that discrimination based on pregnancy falls under the FCRA’s prohibition on sex discrimination. The change to the FCRA effectively codifies that decision. You can find more information about the amendments to the FCRA here.