The Florida Human Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability. The Act covers public and private employers with 15 or more employees (FL Stat. Sec. 760.01 et seq.).
The Public Employment Discrimination Law prohibits discrimination in state employment based on disability unless the disability prevents satisfactory work performance (FL Stat. Sec. 112.042). The state's Vocational Rehabilitation Law prohibits public employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, including those who use a service animal (Sec. 413.08). Under this law, "disability" is defined as being deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or otherwise physically disabled.
The term “handicap” is not defined by the Florida Human Rights Act, but the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines "disability" as:
• A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
• Having a record of such an impairment
• Being regarded by others as having such an impairment
The term “physical impairment” includes any physiological disease, disorder, cosmetic disfigurement, anatomical loss, or any other impairment that would require special education or related services. The term “mental impairment” means any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, emotional or mental illness, and other specific learning disabilities.
The definitions used in the ADA are relevant because the courts in Florida analyze disability discrimination cases under state law "in conformity with the ADA and related regulations" (Tourville v. Securex, Inc., 769 So. 2d 491 (FL 4th Dist. 2000)).
In general, employers must ...