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April 25, 2022

Amendment to Florida Civil Rights Act Restricts Concepts Employers Can Endorse in Training

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The law is slated to go into effect on July 1, 2022, but its fate remains uncertain. A lawsuit already has been filed in the Northern District of Florida federal court challenging HB 7 on various grounds, including that it violates employers' free speech rights.

Key Provisions

HB 7 states that subjecting an employee to workplace training that "espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels the employee to believe" certain concepts constitutes unlawful discrimination.

The law expands Florida Statutes Section 760.10 of the Florida Civil Rights Act to provide that it is discrimination to subject a person, as a condition of employment, to training that endorses any of the following concepts:

  1. Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.
  1. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  1. An individual's moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
  1. Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.
  1. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
  1. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.
  1. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
  1. Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.

HB 7 also states that it does not prohibit discussion of the above concepts as part of an employer's course of training or instruction, provided such training or instruction is given in an "objective manner without the endorsement of such concepts."

HB 7 applies to public and private employers with at least 15 employees. In addition to the workplace, the bill prohibits instruction in public schools of similar concepts.

Next

Despite the pending lawsuit, employers should review their training programs on diversity, inclusion, bias, equal employment opportunity, and harassment prevention, for example, to understand the potential implications of the new law. They also should understand potential risks associated with disciplining or discharging employees who refuse to participate in mandatory training programs, even if employers do not consider the programs to violate the new law.


©2022 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Focused on labor and employment law since 1958, Jackson Lewis P.C.'s 950+ attorneys located in major cities nationwide consistently identify and respond to new ways workplace law intersects business. We help employers develop proactive strategies, strong policies and business-oriented solutions to cultivate high-functioning workforces that are engaged, stable and diverse, and share our clients' goals to emphasize inclusivity and respect for the contribution of every employee. For more information, visit https://www.jacksonlewis.com.

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