Florida Employers Can “Stay Woke.” (At Least for Now.)
By Kevin M. Mosher • Sep 21, 2022
In April, Florida passed the Individual Freedom or “Stop WOKE” bill which was created “to give businesses, employees, children and families tools to stand up against discrimination and woke indoctrination.” Yes, I am serious. The law went into effect on July 1, 2022, and Plaintiff’s employers, including Honeyfund.com and Primo, quickly moved for a preliminary injunction. Last week, the federal district court for the Northern District of Florida deemed the Act unconstitutional and enjoined the defendants from enforcing the law.
What is the “Stop WOKE” bill?
The Stop Wrongs to Our Children and Employees (WOKE) bill is the state Republicans’ attempt to end “state-sanctioned racism.” Stop WOKE essentially prohibits schools and employers from conducting teachings or training on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because it says such instruction is discriminatory. Yes, you read that correctly. Basically, any form of training regarding racism, sexism, equality, unconscious bias, etc. is illegal under the Bill. It alleges that such teachings of critical race theory deepen racial divides rather than mend them and constitute discrimination.
What does this mean for Florida employers?
For now, employers in Florida can stay woke. While the decision is likely to be appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, Florida employers may continue training on racism, sexism, equality, and the elements of critical race theory without penalty unless and until the Court of Appeals rules on the matter. If the injunction is reversed, any person subject to DEI ideology in the workplace could file a complaint. Employers could face penalties under Florida’s existing civil rights protections including injunctive relief, back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages up to $100,000 as well as potential civil damages.
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