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Florida Labor & Employment Lawyer > Blog > Employment Law > Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Injunction—Florida’s “Stop-WOKE” Law Violates First Amendment Protections

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Injunction—Florida’s “Stop-WOKE” Law Violates First Amendment Protections


In April of 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act  (Stop-WOKE Act) into law. The legislation did not take effect. A lawsuit was filed and a court put an injunction in place. On March 4th, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the injunction on First Amendment grounds—meaning the law will still not take effect. In this article, you will find a more comprehensive overview of the decision.

Background: An Overview of the Stop-WOKE Act 

The Stop-WOKE Act was initially scheduled to take effect in Florida on July 1st, 2022. The bill regulates the content of instruction and training in schools and workplaces—particularly in regards to targeting discussions and teachings that suggest individuals bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by others of their race, sex, or national origin. Governor Ron DeSantis championed the law as a measure against what he termed “woke indoctrination.” Critics of the law strongly disagreed with that assessment. Notably, there were both employer interest groups and employee rights advocates who were opposed to the legislation.

Lawsuit Filed to Block the Law (First Amendment) 

Florida’s Stop-WOKE Act is an extremely controversial law. The opponents of the law took legal action—filing a lawsuit to stop the implementation of the law—on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment. The case was brought in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida on the very day Governor DeSantis signed the legislation. A court blocked the law. It never actually took effect. An injunction was put in place. Florida appealed the injunction.

 The Ruling: Eleventh Circuit Upholds Injunction 

In early March 2024, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s decision that parts of the Stop-WOKE Act relating to workplace diversity training are unconstitutional. The court agreed with the district judge’s temporary injunction preventing the law’s enforcement in higher education and extended its reasoning to include businesses, ruling that the law would violate businesses’ First Amendment rights. The decision marks a significant legal setback for the Stop-WOKE Act and its supporters.

The law has effectively been struck down. What will happen next? Florida officials could appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States. Though, the nation’s highest court is under no obligation to hear that appeal. It may or may not grant certiorari if an appeal is filed. Florida lawmakers could also start the legislative process again and try to pass a reform law that complies with the First Amendment. Officials could potentially also opt to abandon the legislation.

 Get Help From an Employment Lawyer in Florida 

Employment law is complicated. Whether you are an employer or an employee, it is normal to have questions about your rights and/or your responsibilities. Be proactive: Contact an experienced Florida employment lawyer to set up a confidential, comprehensive review of your case.

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