Florida’s Bid to Bring Back Ban on ‘Woke’ Workplace Training Fails in Court

(UnitedHeadlines.com) – On March 4, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that blocked a Florida law banning mandatory workplace training for diversity and inclusion from going into effect.

The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the law, known as the “Stop WOKE (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act,” violates an employer’s constitutional right to free speech.

The legislation, signed into law in 2022 by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, says that teachers and businesses cannot require people to attend training programs that promote specific “discriminatory concepts” about people being inherently racist or sexist or that people need to feel guilty about their race or sex. The law included significant financial penalties for employers who violate the law.

In June 2022, two small businesses and a consultant who conducts workplace training sued the state over the law, and, in August 2022, a federal judge blocked the portion of the law about private employers from going into effect.

During the appeal, attorneys for Florida argued that ordinary First Amendment review does not apply because the law does not restrict speech but restricts conduct. The panel disagreed.

An appointee of former President Donald Trump, U.S. Circuit Judge Britt Grant, wrote in the panel’s ruling that by barring discussions about topics the state finds “offensive,” but not barring discussions about other topics, the law violates the First Amendment. U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Brasher, a Trump appointee, and U.S. Circuit Judge Charles Wilson, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, agreed with Grant.

“All options on appeal going forward” are under review by attorneys for the state, according to a statement from DeSantis’ office.

In a separate lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2022, a lower-court judge blocked other provisions of the law that restrict discussions in college classrooms about race and sex. The state also appealed that decision.

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