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Red and Blue State Laws Limiting Diversity Training, Employer Speech Set to Go into Effect

A pair of laws in Florida and Connecticut that restrict how employers can communicate to their employees are set to go into effect July 1. Significantly, the Florida law prohibits employers from providing diversity training to employees, unless such trainings avoid eight proscribed topics as specified in the text of the law.

The Florida law, HB-7, prohibits employers from providing “training or instruction that…promotes…or compels [an employee] to believe specific concepts constitute discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin.” 

The Connecticut law targets employer-held meetings involving politics and/or religion. Connecticut Act 22-24 prohibits employers from terminating or otherwise disciplining employees who refuse to attend an employer-held meeting where “the primary purpose…is to communicate the employer’s opinion concerning religious or political matters.” “Political matters” is defined broadly under the statute and includes meetings regarding “the decision to support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization.”

While one of the Connecticut law’s primary targets is so-called “captive audience” meetings held by employers during union election campaigns, the broad language could potentially apply to a wider range of employer-held meetings— “political,” “civic,” and “community” could be interpreted broadly, particularly in the current environment where social justice initiatives and other socio-political issues are often discussed in the workplace.

Outlook: The Florida law would appear to significantly interfere with many larger employers’ DEI efforts, and any employer with operations in Florida should consider updating any diversity training for Florida employees to comply. Meanwhile, the Connecticut law comes as NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo similarly seeks to prohibit employers from holding many different types of mandatory meeting. Both laws are likely to be the subject of litigation—on preemption grounds in particular for the Connecticut law—that could postpone their July 1 implementation date at the very least.

Published on: June 24, 2022

Authors: Gregory Hoff

Topics: Employment Law, Inclusion and Diversity

Gregory Hoff

Associate Counsel, HR Policy Association

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Contact Gregory Hoff LinkedIn

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