Legislation restricting how race is discussed in the workplace was approved by Florida lawmakers and sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, paving the way for the first law of its kind in the country.
The measure takes aim at any corporate training that makes employees feel discomfort or distress by suggesting that they are responsible for actions “committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.”
It is part of a nationwide push to control how issues of race and identity are taught in corporations. DeSantis has made battling “critical race theory” one of his top legislative priorities.
The state Senate on Thursday voted 24-15 along party lines to approve the measure. If signed by DeSantis, workers could sue their employers.
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“This is a major moment for the anti-critical race theory movement. We have translated our intellectual efforts into concrete public policy,” conservative activist Christopher Rufo, who advised DeSantis on the legislation, wrote in his newsletter.
Across the country, conservatives are pushing bills that put varying limits on workplace diversity training. The measures tend to use language banning “divisive concepts” such as “an individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.”
In December, DeSantis urged his state’s GOP-led Legislature to pass legislation.
“How is it not a hostile work environment to be attacking people based on their race or telling them that they are privileged or that they are part of oppressive systems when all they are doing is showing up to work and trying to earn a living?” DeSantis told supporters at a campaign-style event in December at which Rufo spoke. “We believe this corporate CRT is basically corporate-sanctioned racism.”
State Senate Democrats argued the proposed legislation would lead to frivolous lawsuits and accused DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential candidate who is up for reelection this year, of “fanning the flames of a culture war for political gain.”