Democratic Attorneys General Fight Back Against GOP Targeting Employer DEI Programs

Democratic Attorneys General Fight Back Against GOP Targeting Employer DEI Programs

As Republicans are trying to label corporate workforce diversity (DEI) programs as illegal, Democratic leaders are pushing back.

The Democratic attorneys generals from New York, Illinois, Nevada, and four other states jumped on a call to defend diversity DEI programs as close to 13 Republicans are calling them illegal, NBC News reports. As the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in a groundbreaking vote, the officials say it has nothing to do with employers’ diversity efforts.

Republican attorneys general sent a letter to the CEOs of 100 of the country’s largest corporations warning them of legal action against businesses that set hiring quotas or find them treating job applicants differently because of their race.

However, Politco reports, “Democratic attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia” wrote a letter “to major corporations lined up behind hiring efforts that take diversity into consideration,” a rejoinder to the Republicans’ letter.

“There is no corporation I’m aware of that promotes quotas or openly discriminates based on a number,” New York Attorney General Letitia James told reporters. She added that most company DEI initiatives focus on diversifying the hiring pool or setting aspirational goals.

The Supreme Court’s ruling last month stated that Harvard University’s and the University of North Carolina’s race-conscious admissions policies violated the U.S. Constitution and has no direct effect on employers but they could face some legal consequences for “unlawful” discrimination, according to Politico.

Some Democratic attorneys general agree, but feel Republicans are making, according to the Democrats’ letter, a “baseless assertion that any attempts to address racial disparity are by their very nature unlawful.” Delaware’s Attorney General, Kathy Jennings, called it “a flagrant double standard.”

Raul Torrez, attorney general of New Mexico, says some workplace diversity programs address the difficulty people from disadvantaged backgrounds face. “A lot of the really qualified applicants who are women or people of color simply didn’t know these opportunities existed and how to navigate the system,” Torrez said.

Well before the Supreme Court’s decision, several Republicans took issue with DEI initiatives in education and the workplace. Labor attorneys feel the high court’s decision could put pressure on employers open to building more diverse workplaces.