Florida prohibits CRT endorsement in employee trainings

On April 22, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Stop WOKE Act,” which stands for “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees.” In his remarks when announcing the legislation, Governor DeSantis described the law as “protecting[ing] Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when big corporations force their employees to undergo CRT-inspired “training” and “indoctrination.”

The act amends Florida’s Civil Rights Act to expand employers’ civil liability by making it an unlawful employment practice to subject any individual, as a condition of employment, to any required activity that “espouses, promotes, advances , inculcates or compels . . . an individual to believe any of the following concepts:”

  1. Members of one race, color, sex or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex or national origin .

  2. An individual, because of their race, color, sex or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, consciously or unconsciously.

  3. An individual’s moral character or status as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by race, color, sex or national origin.

  4. Members of one race, color, sex or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect for their race, color, sex or national origin.

  5. An individual, because of race, color, sex or national origin, bears responsibility or should be discriminated against or treated unfavorably because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.

  6. An individual, because of their race, color, gender or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive unfavorable treatment to achieve diversity, equity or inclusion.

  7. An individual, by virtue of race, color, sex or national origin, bears personal responsibility and must experience guilt, anguish or other forms of psychological distress because of acts , in which he played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.

  8. Virtues such as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of one race, color , of a particular sex or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex or national origin.

The law goes on to say that its prohibitions “cannot be construed to prohibit the discussion” of the concepts listed above “so long as such training or instruction is given in an objective manner without endorsement of the concepts.”

Employers with employees in Florida should evaluate their existing employee training programs, especially those focused on diversity and anti-discrimination policies, to make sure they don’t violate the law. For example, many training materials may discuss unconscious and inherent biases, and employers should exercise caution insofar as they include information regarding these concepts in their Florida training. A simple reading of the law indicates that definitional information may be permitted, but any commentary that promotes or endorses these concepts would be prohibited. Employers who have diversity and inclusion goals must also ensure that those goals do not violate Section 6, which prohibits an employer from selecting a candidate to achieve diversity.

©2022 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 126