Florida: Stop W.O.K.E. Act Impacts Employer Training
All Employers with 15+ Employees
April 22, 2022
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Florida recently enacted the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, amending the Florida Civil Rights Act. While much has been written about the law nationally, there has been little focus on the items of the bill that impact employers – specifically an employer’s efforts to provide training on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), discrimination, and harassment in the workplace.
According to the Act, unlawful employment practices include providing, as a condition of employment, training, instruction, or other required activity that puts forth the following concepts:
- Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.
- An individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive because of their race, color, sex, or national origin, whether consciously or unconsciously.
- A person’s moral character or status as privileged or oppressed is determined by race, color, sex, or national origin.
- Members of a race, color, sex, or national origin cannot or should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.
- People, because of their race, color, sex, or national origin, bear responsibility for, should be discriminated against, or receive adverse treatment because of actions committed in the past by members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
- People should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of their race, color, sex, or national origin in order to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.
- People, because of their race, color, sex, or national origin, should feel personal responsibility or guilt for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
- Concepts of merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created to oppress people because of their race, color, sex, or national origin.
While this language appears to outlaw all forms of DEI training in the state, the Act does give employers room to maneuver. Specifically, the Act states that it does not prohibit discussion of these concepts as part of a training. However, the training must be given in an objective manner and not specifically endorse concepts outlawed by the Act.
Employers who wish to continue DEI training should meet with local counsel to determine next steps. Employers may also consider making DEI trainings voluntary. However, employers would need to ensure that employees who do not participate are not discriminated against because of that decision. Note that this bill is already being challenged in court, and its future remains uncertain.
- Review the bill here.
- Update employee training content for compliance.
- Revise training programs as appropriate.
- Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.
Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2022 ManagEase