Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. (“Disney”), the owner and operator of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, has sued Florida’s Governor and other officials for allegedly launching “a targeted campaign of government retaliation” in response to Disney’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. The Complaint in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. v. DeSantis et al., highlights one of the most hotly debated topics in the era of competing ESG and anti-ESG sentiments: to what extent should corporations take public positions on political and social issues that might not directly relate to the companies’ core business operations? Corporate boards of directors should be attuned to and exercise appropriate oversight over these questions, as well as the related issue of corporate political contributions.
In a new skirmish in the volatile ESG and culture wars, a Florida federal court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of portions of Florida’s “anti-woke” law, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend training sessions or other activities that “espouse” or “promote” eight “concepts” relating to race, color, sex, or national origin. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker held in Honeyfund.com, Inc. v. DeSantis (N.D. Fla. Aug. 18, 2022), that the statute is a “naked viewpoint-based regulation on speech,” in violation of the First Amendment, and also is unconstitutionally vague.