In a new skirmish in the volatile ESG and culture wars, a Florida federal court ordered enforcement of portions of Florida’s “anti-voke” law, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to participate in training or other activities. Stops who “espo” or “promote”. Eight “concepts” related to race, color, sex, or national origin. US District Judge Mark Walker arrested Honeyfund.com, Inc. v. DeSantis (nd fla. Aug. 18, 2022) that the law is “a crude opinion-based regulation of speech” that violates the First Amendment and is also unconstitutionally vague.
The Florida law and resulting lawsuit reflects ongoing tensions between efforts by some employers to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion (“DEI”) in the workplace and the political sensitivities of some constituencies that claim to have been hurt by ESG-related actions to become. We do it. honey find The decision, if ultimately upheld, should offer some comfort to employers looking to advance DEI and other ESG goals and help protect them from material government retaliation affecting speech. Hm.
In 2022, Florida enacted the Personal Freedom Act (“IFA”), which Gov. DeSantis called the “Stop Vocal Act.” The IFA amends the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 by expanding the definition of an unlawful employment practice to include requiring employees to participate in training or other “essential activities” that “spouse, encourage, lead, cause, induce or force”. [employees] Belief in any of the “eight established” concepts related to race, color, sex, or national origin. These “concepts” include whether members of one group are “morally superior” to members of another group, whether a person is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive” because of their membership in a particular group. whether individuals should be given special treatment because of their membership in a group, whether an individual should be held accountable “by reason of past actions” or should be discriminated against or disadvantaged, etc.
The IFA does not prohibit “the discussion of the concepts listed therein as part of a training or instruction” if such “training or instruction is carried out specifically without the support of the concepts”.
Several plaintiffs challenged the IFA under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. There are some feuding employers who want to run mandatory DEI training, which they are now banned from doing by the IFA. Another plaintiff is a DEI consultant who provides such training and claims to have lost business due to IFA.
Plaintiffs alleged that the IFA violated the First Amendment because it sought to regulate language based on content and point of view and could not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. He also claimed that the law — including its carving for “purpose” training — was unconstitutionally ambiguous. Judge Walker agreed and issued an injunction, noting that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on merit and that other criteria for granting an injunction were also in their favor.
The court began with the principle that under the First Amendment, “[t]The state cannot burden the speech of others in order to steer the public debate in a preferred direction.” But that is exactly what the IFA does. It “does not prohibit” All Mandatory employee training, or “mandatory training that addresses specific concepts.” Rather, the state only bans “education that” Support concepts covered. ,[T]He Only To determine whether IFA inhibits a compulsive activity, one has to look at the view expressed about that activity—look at the language.”
Accordingly, the law is unconstitutional because it discriminates based on the content of the regulated speech, unless it can escape a rigorous scrutiny that requires the government to demonstrate that the law is “narrower.” designed to serve the interests of the state.” The court ruled that the IFA could not escape a rigorous investigative scrutiny.
- The court did not find any compelling state interest in this.”[t]This First Amendment does not authorize the state to censor statements it deems “paradoxical,” no matter how captivated the trainee audience may be.
- The court also ruled that even if the IFA is believed to be acting in a compelling government interest such as non-discrimination, the Florida Civil Rights Act”beautiful Defendants who claim the purpose of the IFA is to ban them have banned most of them. Can create a hostile work environment. It is already illegal – as both sides acknowledge.”
In addition to concluding that the plaintiffs could succeed in their claim that the IFA violated the First Amendment, the court agreed that the law was impenetrably vague. The Court found that at least some of the eight prohibited “concepts” are “obscure” or even “bordering on obscurity.” Furthermore, “The entire statute has been rendered ambiguous by the qualification that ‘discussion’ of prohibited concepts is permissible if given ‘in a purposeful manner without any support.'”[F]New words such as “objective” are loaded and disputed, and “objective discussion, if possible, is even more difficult here in relation to contentious cases such as the Eight Prohibited Concepts, where many, including the defendants, question their validity.”
So the court first ordered the enforcement of the law.