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Eleventh Circuit Puts The Breaks On Florida’s Individual Freedom Act (a/k/a “Stop Woke Act”) 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Sunshine State’s legislature have been aggressively opposed to certain fringe elements of DEI initiatives. In 2022 they enacted the Individual Freedom Act to prevent schools as well as employers from subjecting students or workers to instruction or training that compels them to believe in various banned subjects.  Among the subjects the Act declared unlawful for schools or employers to mandate for students or employees:

  • The belief that members of one race, color, national origin, or sex are morally superior to others.
  • That persons of one race, color, national origin, or sex are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • Privilege or oppression is necessarily determined by a person’s race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • That adverse treatment of any person is justified based on past actions committed by members of their race, or in the interest of achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
  • That virtues such as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, or racial neutrality or colorblindness, are merely disguises for racism or sexism.

The Act goes on to mandate certain curriculum for schools, including teaching that all individuals are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. These and other provisions earned the law the informal title of the “Stop Woke Act;” they also engendered considerable opposition from groups who advocate for these very teachings.  As a result the law was promptly challenged in court by, among others, a DEI consultant who provides training to employers. A trial court granted a preliminary injunction based on a finding that parts of the Act constituted an impermissible ban on free speech. On March 4, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta affirmed the lower court’s decision on appeal.

Questions? Contact Jim by email or at (952)746-1700

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