UPDATE: After this show aired, on August 18, the Federal Court suspended the Stop WOKE law that sought to censor private companies’ speech on race and gender. Read more about the decision here.
Local business leaders Sara Margulis, CEO, and co-founder of the Pinellas Co. wedding registry, Honeyfund, and Antonio McBroom of Primo Tampa, a 100% Black-owned franchise of Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, have sued in federal court to have DeSantis’ “Stop Woke” law declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it purports to censor what their private businesses can say to their employees, especially in diversity, equity and inclusion training. They were joined on MidPoint by their attorney, Shalini Agarwal, from the Washington D.C.-based Protect Democracy Project, to discuss their lawsuit and their claim that it is unconstitutional for a government to insist that they can’t talk to their employees about race or gender issues in their businesses as they see fit.
“When the Stop Woke law came to my attention a few months ago, it was clear to me it was going to have a real impact on my business,” said Sara Margulis. “We employ people from diverse backgrounds and we care about advancing women in leadership roles, which we know is a very profitable move from research by McKinsey and other business research labs, and we saw that this was going to mean more attorneys fees and more time spent addressing our diversity programs to make sure that we didn’t overstep the so-called “Stop Woke” Act. So, we started speaking out against it, and soon enough we were approached by Shalini and the Protect Democracy Project.”
Antonio McBroom explained his reasons for litigating as follows, “One of the things that differentiates our company is that we are a purpose-driven business, and that purpose is truly around correcting injustice and closing the equity gap in our society, and so any effort that seeks to mute my ability to be vocal and talk about that through recruiting and championing a growth and learning journey around anti-racism with the leaders that I hire, really jeopardizes my ability to differentiate the company that I’ve created.”
The lawsuit went before U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee last week on these businesses’ request for a temporary injunction to stop enforcement of the law while the case proceeds to trial. Their attorney Shalini Agarwal expects a decision from Judge Walker within the next couple of weeks. She is cautiously optimistic that the injunction will be granted.