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May 19, 2022
Effective July 1, 2022, the Florida Civil Rights Act has been amended to limit the topics that employers can discuss during diversity, non-discrimination, and non-harassment training.
Content of the New Law
The amendment, also known as the “Stop W.O.K.E Act,” or “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees,” states that it is unlawful discrimination to subject employees to any mandatory training or instruction that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels the employee to believe” or endorse certain concepts, including:
The law does not prohibit discussion of these concepts if the training is given objectively and without endorsement.
Both private and public employers in Florida with at least 15 employees are subject to this law.
Attention and Litigation
The law has already drawn national attention, as well as litigation. Plaintiffs are challenging the Act’s constitutionality, arguing that it limits the employers’ rights to free speech. Florida’s law and the litigation stemming from it is similar to Executive Order 13950, which President Trump signed in September 2020 to apply to federal agencies, federal contractors, and federal grant recipients to “foster environments devoid of hostility grounded in race, sex, and other federally protected characteristics” and eliminate “un-American” and “divisive concepts” from diversity and inclusion trainings. Executive Order 13950 was challenged in California federal court before President Biden revoked it in January 2021.
Regardless of any challenges, and even if you do not employ workers in Florida, it would be wise to review your training programs, specifically related to diversity and inclusion, to ensure that they aim to provide training that is objective and does not endorse any specific concepts.
*Special thanks to Claire Miller, our intern from the University of Notre Dame, for her contributions to this article.