Posted on March 5, 2024

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Florida’s ‘Stop WOKE Act’ Rules for Businesses

Brooke Migdon, The Hill, March 4, 2024

A federal appeals court ruled unanimously Monday to block a Florida law preventing businesses from requiring employees to attend workplace trainings that promote diversity and inclusion, affirming a temporary injunction issued by a lower court.

“This is not the first era in which Americans have held widely divergent views on important areas of morality, ethics, law, and public policy,” a three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in Monday’s decision. “And it is not the first time that these disagreements have seemed so important, and their airing so dangerous, that something had to be done. But now, as before, the First Amendment keeps the government from putting its thumb on the scale.”

Florida officials, since introducing the “Stop WOKE Act” — in which “woke” is an acronym for “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees” — have argued that the legislation is intended to combat alleged indoctrination in schools and workplaces.

The law prevents Florida educators and businesses from requiring individuals to participate in activities that promote “discriminatory concepts” constituting unlawful discrimination, including that members of one race or sex are “morally superior” to those of another and that a person, by virtue of their race, sex or national origin, “should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity or inclusion.”


Three Florida businesses sued the state that June, and a federal judge in August 2022 blocked portions of the law pertaining to private employers, ruling that the restrictions violate free speech protections under the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause for being impermissibly vague.