(West Palm Beach, Florida) At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Michael McAuliffe, State Attorney for the Fifteen Judicial Circuit of Florida, has revised his policies to allow employees to use family medical leave to care for domestic partners with serious health conditions. Previously, the policy was limited to employees’ spouses, parents and children.
The Council, a local nonprofit organization founded in 1988, is dedicated to dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
McAuliffe also updated his policies to prohibit harassment based on gender identity and expression. The prior policy included race, religious creed, color, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, sexual orientation and genetic information.
“As State Attorney, I am committed to creating a work place that can bring out our employees’ best abilities and potential. That means no barriers based on sexual orientation,” said McAuliffe. “By making sure my policies reflect that reality, I want to send the message gay and lesbian members of the state attorney’s office can, and must, be welcome as full members of the team.”
"State Attorney McAuliffe’s pro-family policies should serve as a model for his colleagues statewide," said Council President Rand Hoch.
McAuliffe informed the Council that he will advocate at the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association for statutory changes to extend domestic partner benefits to employees of the 20 state attorneys in Florida .
McAuliffe’s updated policy is in line with family medical leave policies in at least twelve states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia, all of which provide family medical leave for same-sex couples.
In 2004, at the Council’s request, then-Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore became the first public employer in Florida to allow employees to use family medical leave to care for domestic partners. Since then, only a few Florida public employers – all located in Palm Beach County – have followed LePore’s lead. They include the Office of the Palm Beach County Tax Collector, the Office of the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser and the Port of Palm Beach.
The Council is currently working on family medical leave reform with the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and the City of West Palm Beach.