Comparison: State vs. Federal
The Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on handicap. 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 county and municipal employment based on handicap if the individual is the most competent and able to perform the services required (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 (FL Stat. Sec. 413.08). Under this law, "disability" is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
The term "handicap" is not defined by the 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. ...