M. Carter DeLorme, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “New Fla. Law Threatens to Upend Workplace Diversity Training,” by Vin Gurrieri. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Employers in the Sunshine State should start planning now for a controversial Florida law, set to take effect in July, that would curtail their ability to discuss race and gender in workplace training seminars, experts say. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 22 signed H.B. 7, dubbed the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, or Stop WOKE Act, which amends the Florida Civil Rights Act to outlaw workers being taught various race-, sex- and ethnicity-based concepts that state lawmakers find problematic or objectionable. The law, which is scheduled to take effect July 1, also includes provisions aimed at regulating classroom instruction of race.

Hours after it was enacted, a coalition of students, educators and an anti-racism training consultant sued to challenge H.B. 7 as unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida scheduled a hearing for June 21 over whether to issue a preliminary injunction pausing it from taking effect.

The suit alleges, among other things, that the law's provisions pertaining to employment trainings flout the First Amendment since they "constitute viewpoint discrimination" and are "explicitly designed to target and suppress ideas with which GOP lawmakers disagree." …

Here, Law360 looks at six things employers should know about the new law.

Waiting for a Court to Act Is a Bad Idea

Despite the pending lawsuit, companies shouldn't wait for the court to act before they undertake a close review of their training materials to gauge the extent to which they may run afoul of H.B. 7, attorneys said.

Carter Delorme, a member at Epstein Becker Green, noted that the statute does say employers can discuss things such as critical race theory during seminars, but "you just can't endorse it." That distinction is one that DeLorme said observers will have to wait to see "how [it] ultimately plays out in court." 

"I would think that if you're a national employer with Florida operations, you should probably be looking at what your training actually entails, and doing some self-critical analysis to say, 'Are we going too far? Are we getting to the fringes of what this law is tending to get at?'" Delorme said. "And if you're a Florida employer, obviously you need to look at all of your training systems to make sure that … there is more even-handed language." …

When it comes to diversity training, DeLorme said he believes employers will likely shift the focus of training seminars away from the historical reasons why such a session is necessary and focus instead on explaining a company's own present-day culture and value system and outlining behaviors that are unacceptable without adding historical context.

"Where I think it's going to become interesting is on the diversity side of the street, with more and more companies thinking about doing diversity, equity and inclusion training," DeLorme said. "And the trick there is going to be probably avoiding talking about the 'why' we need to do this and focusing on the company's present-day culture." …

Unconscious Bias Training Is Endangered

In addition to restricting specific concepts, the law may also disincentivize employers from instructing workers about unconscious or implicit bias and require trainers to be more precise in the words they use, attorneys said. …

Epstein Becker's DeLorme, for one, said he believes employers that are committed to having diverse, equitable and inclusive work environments "will be able to work around what appears to be … some attempt to stop having discussions around implicit and unconscious bias," but that it'll take ingenuity to do so within the confines of H.B. 7.

"There are actually wonderful ways to talk about implicit bias without talking about it being rooted in some sort of historical racist or sexist cultural behavior," DeLorme said. "And I just think you'd have to be a little bit more creative in how you will present the topic of implicit bias and not tie it to ... race, color, sex and national origin."

Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.