Lawmakers propose prohibition on employer discrimination against military spouses

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Unemployment and underemployment are long-standing issues for active-duty military spouses.

Democratic Rep. Dan Daley is proposing legislation that would prohibit employer discrimination against military spouses.

Under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, an employer may not discriminate against an applicant, or an employee, based on factors including race, religion and gender, among others.

The proposal (HB 853 & SB 550), however, would add military status to the list of protected categories — thus bolstering protections for military families.

Florida is home to 21 military instillations and more than 65,000 active-duty service members.

“Alongside the courageous military members who serve our country are their spouses,” the Coral Springs lawmaker said. “These men and women give up precious time with their loved ones and are often forced to relocate, leaving behind jobs they love and struggle to find new employment.”

Unemployment and underemployment are long-standing issues for active-duty military spouses.

Some unemployment estimates reach as high as 25%, according to the National Military Spouse Network. Meanwhile, 35% of military spouses say they are overqualified for the job they currently hold.

Military spouses are 92% female and roughly 40% of them hold a college degree. The location of military bases, the local job market and the frequency of base transfers are among the leading reasons spouses struggle to find gainful employment, the network says. Most military families move every two to three years.

“These men and women face a multitude of barriers to entering the workforce and we should do everything we can to support them as they seek employment in Florida,” said Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz, the bill co-sponsor.

Cruz is also sponsoring legislation that would fast-track professional license applications from military spouses.

That proposal (HB 559 & SB 562) would provide military spouses who hold an out-of-state professional license with a temporary license, allowing them to resume work without delay. The state, meanwhile, would expedite the application.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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