Female lawmakers push for family-friendly policies and a non-discriminatory workplace

Six months of paid family leave.

Fair pay and employment opportunities for women in the workplace.

Equal pay for equal work without regard to gender when it comes to state bids and contracts.

Those issues and more are part of a series of bills that a group of female lawmakers will be pushing this coming legislative session in Florida.

The legislators and their supporters on Wednesday plan to rally in the Capitol to showcase key pieces of legislation to build family-friendly workplaces and combat wage discrimination based on gender.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, are sponsoring and introducing the bills. They are: Sen. Linda Stewart (representing part of Orange County); Sen. Lori Berman (part of Palm Beach County); Sen. Janet Cruz, (part of Hillsborough County); Rep. Dotie Joseph (part of Miami-Dade) and Rep. Fentrice Driskell (part of Hillsborough).

Legislation related to equal pay and family leave has been filed in the past but not approved by the Republican-led Legislature. And succeeding this legislative session could be an uphill battle, particularly if businesses shun such reforms.

But the landscape has begun to change, with more women running for political office and getting elected. And Ivanka Trump, the Republican president’s daughter, has been vocal about paid family leave.

Legislation called the “Florida Family Leave Act” — says that beginning July 1, 2019, “an employer shall allow an employee who has been employed by the employer for at least 18 months to take family leave from employment, for up to 6 months, for the employee to bond with his or her minor child during the first 6 months after the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption. Such family leave shall be without loss of pay or diminution of any privilege, benefit, or right arising out of such employment.”

That six months is double the time allowed for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows twelve work weeks of leave in a year’s period for the birth of a child, among other reasons for a leave.

Legislation named the “Senator Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act,” outlines additional provisions to prohibit wage rate discrimination based on sex.

Those include failing to provide an employee with information about promotions or advancement and assigning the employee work less likely to lead to a promotion or career advancement opportunity.

The legislation also says that employers can’t retaliate or discriminate against employees if they disclose their own wages or ask about another employee’s wages.

And legislation related to vendors and procurement calls for the state “to establish a program to certify vendors that pay their employees equal pay for equal work without regard to gender.”

 

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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