|For Immediate Release: February 28, 2022
TALLAHASSEE, FL — Business leaders representing small and large businesses from across Florida have expressed alarm at legislation that would allow individuals to sue companies for having Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs in their respective workplaces when said training causes individuals to feel “guilt” or “discomfort.” The bill (HB7/SB 148) known as the “Stop WOKE Act” would create an environment in which meaningful trainings could be cause for frivolous lawsuits.
In response, a group of business leaders, including some of Florida’s largest chambers of commerce, which represent thousands of employers, released the attached letter, expressing alarm that the bill could wreak havoc on business operations, create a “burdensome patchwork” of regulations, and cause the economic climate in Florida to become less friendly to business.
“For years, Florida lawmakers, companies, chambers of commerce, and economic development professionals have worked hard to make this state one that is vibrant and one whose economy makes Florida an irresistibly good place to live, work, and do business,” reads the letter. This legislation has severe potential implications for any company doing business or contemplating beginning operations in Florida.
|Sign On: Open Letter from Business Leaders to Florida Lawmakers
As Florida job creators and advocates for strong economic growth, we are deeply concerned about the negative implications of HB 7/SB 148 currently being considered by the Florida Legislature.
As written, these harmful proposals would force businesses to navigate between competing mandates. We have a legal and ethical requirement to create safe and fair workplaces by conducting meaningful trainings on workplace issues like sexual harassment, diversity, and inclusion. If this bill passes, we could face potential legal liability if said training makes someone feel “uncomfortable.” We fear this will provoke an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits, even as Florida has been recently praised for reforming its litigation climate.
Furthermore, this legislation would weaken our already-strained efforts to recruit talent to fill vacancies left vacant during the pandemic. Our businesses will struggle, even more than they currently do, to resume employment levels needed to be successful.
While some of us are headquartered or function solely in the state, we also represent larger national employers with a footprint in Florida. This legislation creates a burdensome patchwork of special rules, making it more onerous to operate and to provide equitable workplace opportunities in Florida.
Those additional regulatory burdens and the invitation to frivolous litigation could discourage companies from considering Florida for expansion or relocation. It could also discourage national organizations and associations from considering our state as a location for meetings and conventions.
For years, Florida lawmakers, companies, chambers of commerce, and economic development professionals have worked hard to make this state one that is vibrant and one whose economy makes Florida an irresistibly good place to live, work, and do business. The business community’s commitment to a culture of mutual respect and safe workplaces for everyone is a crucial element of making Florida welcoming, inclusive, and economically competitive.
We are eager to work with our legislative leaders to address our concerns and to ensure that the business community will not be forced to overcome these substantial challenges.
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc
City of Fort Lauderdale
Converge & Associates Consulting
Innova Management Solutions, Inc.
J. Crew Group
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Misfits Gaming Group
On Top of the World Communities
Palm Health Foundation
Ponto Alto Publishing
Sun Life US
CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:
Black Professionals Network
Coral Springs Coconut Creek Regional Chamber of Commerce
Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce
Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber
Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce
South Tampa Chamber
Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber
Coalition of Miami-Dade County Chambers of Commerce
- Aventura Marketing Council/Aventura Chamber of Commerce
- Chamber South
- Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce
- Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Greater Miami Hotel & Beaches Association
- Hialeah Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce
- Miami-Dade Beacon Council
- Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce
- Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce
- Miami Springs/Airport Area Chamber of Commerce
- South Dade Chamber
- South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Elizabeth F. Schwartz, PA
Thrive Family Practice
Shade Ceramics and Shutter Photography
Brodzki Jacobs & Associates
The McGuire Home Team - Keller Williams
Center for Psychological Growth
Embracing Balance Counseling Solutions,LLC
Holiday Inn Express & Suites - Tampa
The WillMark Group
My Path Unfolding, LLC
Black Sheep Restaurant Group
Wilton’s Manor Doggie Daycare, Resort & Spa
102 GROUP, Inc.
Kairos Insurance Group
First Southeast Mortgage Corporation
Rainbow Wedding Chapel
Rainbow Mobile Notary and Wedding Officiants
Anthony Abbate Architect PA
Bill Hoffman and Assoc., LLC
Villa Vilekulla Neighborhood Toy Store
Holland Family Services
Playbook Public Relations
Trace Kingham Inc dba Reimagined Experiences
The Pride Center at Equality Park
Annie Appleseed Project
Open To All
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund