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South Florida woman joins others in lawsuit over 'Stop the Woke Act'

Business owner speaks out on "anti-woke" law
Business owner speaks out on "anti-woke" law 02:17

FORT LAUDERDALE - The case against the 'Stop the Woke Act' went before a judge this week after a group filed a lawsuit to try to stop it.  

The new law went into effect July 1st, it not only bans critical race theory in schools but blocks businesses from requiring diversity practices or training.  

CBS 4 sat down with one of the plaintiffs in the case from Broward County.

"Chicago Freedom movement was the work that got us the Fair Housing Act and my father and Dr. King, and Al Raby was instrumental in doing this," Chevarra Orrin told us.

You could say Orrin was born into her line of work.  Her father was a civil rights activist, James Bevel, he was the architect behind the Birmingham Children's Crusade, to protest against segregation laws.   I've been involved in justice work almost all of my life."

However, relaying any of that personal experience or history is now off limits in the workplace, and that's not good for Collective Concepts, Orrin's Fort Lauderdale company which helps train workers in diversity and inclusion.  

"The strategies that I'm having that make organizations more equitable, it's forcing me to have to change language, not use concepts. For example, unconscious bias, having a conversation about race and gender. This effectively stops me from being able to do my work," Orrin explained.

Because of Stop Woke Act, she told CBS 4 she is losing customers.  "The organization that I shared with you that brought me in a couple of days prior to this taking effect, we had talked about doing some longer-term work those conversations have halted."

For her this is unconstitutional and that's part of the reason she's pushing back.

"I'm very proud to be a large group of people a collective who absolutely recognize that our freedom of speech is one of our most core values," Orrin said.  She's joined two other plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Florida.  They're being represented by Protect Democracy, a non-partisan, non-profit organization aimed at fighting abuses of power.

"We have laws anti-discrimination laws, they already exist," Shalini Agarwal, an attorney with the group said.

But the state argues the new law is needed to remove a focus on race and gender, thus allowing for natural inclusion, and helping prevent some from feeling guilt.  

"The law is so unclear that any reasonable employer who's trying to understand how do I comply with this would not know. That's really the issue, it's chilling employers from talking, going anywhere near concepts related to race or sex," Agarwal explained.  

Now Agarwal and her team have filed an injunction, if granted, that could stop the lawn from being enforced. For Orrin this is a little bit of history repeating itself, and she's carrying on the legacy of her parent to advocate for equality and defend civil rights.

"We should be deeply concerned when any of our rights and freedoms are taken away," Orrin added.

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