On March 10, 2022, the Florida Senate passed HB 7, otherwise known as the “Stop WOKE Act.” Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law. If enacted, effective July 1, 2022, the law will amend the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) to include a prohibition on mandatory employee trainings regarding certain topics addressing race, color, sex, or national origin. Specifically, HB 7 prohibits “[s]ubjecting any individual, as a condition of employment . . . to training, instruction, or any other required activity that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such individual to believe”:
- Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another.
- An individual is inherently racist, whether consciously or unconsciously, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
- Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.
- An individual bears personal responsibility for, and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of, actions in which the individual played no part that were committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
- Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.
Once signed into law, requiring employees to participate in trainings promoting any of these concepts will constitute employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin under the FCRA. Any Florida employers requiring employees to attend trainings on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion should consult counsel to review existing training programs prior to July 1, 2022. Should you have any questions regarding your own employee training programs, contact Gunster’s Labor and Employment group.
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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.
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