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Why Tampa Bay’s biggest company is speaking out on a Supreme Court case

Margie Manning



Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Tech Data Corp. is one of 206 companies asking the U.S. Supreme Court to protect employment rights for LGBTQ workers.

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Rowdies also signed a friend of the court legal brief that will be submitted to the high court today in advance of oral arguments in October on three cases concerning alleged discrimination against LGBTQ workers.

The brief has more corporate signers than any previous business brief in an LGBTQ non-discrimination case, according to the Human Rights Campaign, one of the organizations backing the initiative.

“Inclusion is one of our shared values at Tech Data, so including our company as one of the signers of the Human Rights Campaign amicus brief supporting LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination falls directly in line with our culture. We are proud to align with the Human Rights Campaign as we focus on building an environment of inclusion for our diverse workforce, and thereby positioning Tech Data as an employer of choice with a progressive culture,” said Cal Jackson, director of diversity and inclusion at Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD).

With $37.2 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2019, the Clearwater IT distributor is the largest company headquartered in Tampa-St. Pete and a major employer as well, with about 2,000 local workers. The company was the title sponsor for the Tech Data St. Pete Pride Parade, and CEO Rich Hume is one of four local CEOs who have committed to an annual diversity and inclusion strategic plan.

“We know being inclusive is not only the right thing to do – it makes good business sense,” said a tweet from the Rays, which also own the Rowdies.

That’s one of the four key points in the brief, the HRC said in a news release. The others are:

• Top American businesses are comfortable with courts continuing to hold that federal law provides protections to LGBTQ employees.

• Non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ employees help improve operations for businesses.

• There would be significant costs for employers and employees if sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination were not forbidden by law.

Many of the businesses that filed the brief operate in multiple states, and they would benefit from the clarity that comes from the uniform application of federal law, the brief said. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted provisions prohibiting sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination in private employment but 28 states, including Florida, offer neither.

Several of the signers have significant operations in Tampa-St. Pete but are based elsewhere. They include Accenture, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Macy’s, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and Wells Fargo, among others.

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