Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Controversial “Stop WOKE Act” Into Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Controversial “Stop WOKE Act” Into Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Controversial “Stop WOKE Act” Into Law

Syntrio has always been a proponent of employers conducting quality diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DE&I”) training as a part of organizational goals to improve workplace culture. Indeed, DE&I education is a pillar of broad-scale EEO training concepts and intertwines with harassment prevention, anti-discrimination, civility and respect, and mindfulness training. Taken collectively, these concepts make up the bulk of necessary training that is proven to improve workplace culture.

On April 22, 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law HB7, which expands employer liability for discriminatory employment practices under the Florida Civil Rights Act. Set to take effect on July 1, 2022, HB7 (which has been nicknamed the “Stop WOKE Act”) explicitly subjects employers to liability for conducting workplace training that “promotes, advances, inculcates or compels” employees to believe certain concepts constitute unlawful discrimination.

Syntrio’s Courseware Does Not Conflict with Florida HB7

The controversial Florida law has drawn several questions from employers before and after its signing. Namely, employers are concerned that if they conduct anti-discrimination training, DE&I training, or discipline employees for refusing to attend training sessions, they may be subject to civil liability under the Florida Civil Rights Act. More specifically, employers ask if Syntrio’s industry-leading training courses on subjects such as DE&I or the prevention of discrimination violate HB7. The short answer is a definitive “no” (our courseware does not violate the principles of HB7). Whether some training created by other providers might break HB7 is a much more complicated question that we cannot answer.

New Law Sparks Controversy

Untangling the provisions of HB7 is no easy task, as it was written in a manner that instantly drew criticism and controversy. Indeed, HB7 was dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” for its goal of prohibiting training on concepts such as “critical race theory” unless the training is provided from a purely objective standpoint that gives examples of both sides of a particular issue. The law also seeks to eliminate employers teaching Florida employees that members of one race are “morally superior” or members of one race are “inherently racist.” Further, HB7 prohibits training on concepts such as a moral character being determined by one’s race. Lastly, the law bans instruction that tends to blame members of one race or another for atrocities of the past or seeks to impart guilt on the members of a race for the wrongs of society throughout history.

Syntrio re-iterates its belief that DE&I training should be a healthy and positive concept. We feel the understanding and practice of DE&I concepts are essential to a healthy organizational culture. DE&I principles such as equity and inclusion teach learners to objectively listen to opinions from people of all backgrounds, which is where progress can be made. Syntrio courses have ever contained concepts of inherent moral superiority or the belief that one person is better than another. Indeed, such principles directly contrast Syntrio’s beliefs as an organization and the concepts its courses articulate. As a result, we are confident that our courseware is always written from an objective point of view and is therefore fully compliant with the provisions of HB7. In keeping with its principles of objectivity, all Syntrio courses on DE&I or the prevention of discrimination will be helpful to your organization no matter its views on HB7.

We invite you to contact a member of Syntrio’s staff to see how its industry-leading courseware can help you with your compliance needs. Always on the cutting edge of new developments in employment law in all 50 states (such as Florida HB7 and changes to other state fair employment laws), Syntrio’s courseware remains ahead of the curve with new real-life scenarios that provide the opportunity for your employees to take home concepts that apply outside of work while keeping your organization compliant with the laws and recommendations throughout the country.

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