19 Employers File Brief Against Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, Asserting the Law Is Unconstitutional and an Impediment to Business Success

Tallahassee, FL – In an effort to highlight Florida’s unconstitutional and anti-free enterprise legislation HB 7, or the so-called Stop WOKE Act, 19 employers in a range of industries, including fashion, manufacturing, hospitality, technology, and fine foods, submitted an amicus brief yesterday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit supporting our litigation against the law.

“The Stop WOKE Act significantly and unconstitutionally limits the DEI training that businesses — in their business judgment — have determined to be appropriate for their employees. If allowed to stand, its expansive statutory language and a sweeping liability regime will accomplish its intended goal: to chill employers’ speech concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion and disrupt employers’ ability to determine how best to train their employees,” the employers wrote in their brief. Further, the employers explained, the chilling effects of the Stop WOKE Act extend beyond Florida, as nationwide businesses will either have to create Florida-specific training programs or else conform their nationwide training to Florida’s restrictions. 

The full brief can be read here.

Protect Democracy represents Florida honeymoon registry company Honeyfund.com and Primo Tampa, a subsidiary of the largest Ben & Jerry’s franchisee in the country, along with corporate diversity consultancy Collective Concepts and its co-founder Chevara Orrin, in litigation challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s HB 7. The bill purports to “fight back against woke indoctrination” by, among other things, barring employers from engaging in speech that “advances” certain “concepts” regarding race, sex, or national origin. Protect Democracy filed the lawsuit against Florida officials in partnership with Ropes & Gray, LLP.

On August 18, 2022, the Honorable Judge Mark E. Walker, Chief U.S. District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, issued a preliminary injunction suspending enforcement of the law because it likely violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The order is currently on appeal in the 11th Circuit, where the employers’ brief was filed.

Speech codes like HB 7, which seeks to censor ideas contrary to government officials’ preferred narrative, muzzle independent institutions, and direct outrage toward disfavored groups, take a page from the authoritarian playbook. Prohibiting viewpoints disfavored by government officials violates well-established free speech rights and threatens to chill a wide range of speech in the workplace related to race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Read about it and our lawsuit here.

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