Companies must end racial preferences or face accountability 'sooner rather than later,' 13 state AGs say
“Nothing in the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action case has any direct application to employment,” according to Pauline Kim, a professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Image from Shutterstock.
Attorneys general from 13 states are warning Fortune 100 companies that a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down race-conscious admissions programs at universities also implicates corporate diversity programs.
The July 13 letter said companies should end race-based quotas or preferences in employment and contracting.
“If you choose not to do so, know that you will be held accountable—sooner rather than later—for your decision to continue treating people differently because of the color of their skin,” the letter said.
The Supreme Court ruled last month that race-conscious programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate the equal protection clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination in programs receiving federal financial assistance.
According to the attorneys general, courts routinely interpret workplace discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in accord with Title VI interpretations. Racial preferences in employment and contracting also violate state law, the letter said.
Some experts say corporate diversity programs are not at risk.
“Nothing in the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action case has any direct application to employment,” Pauline Kim, a professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, told the Wall Street Journal.
Most corporate diversity efforts focus on expanding applicant pools or changing hiring practices, rather than hiring applicants based on race, Kim said.
“These types of actions do not constitute discrimination on the basis of race, and therefore none of them run afoul of the law,” Kim said.
The coalition of 13 states was co-led by Republican Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and Republican Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, according to a July 13 press release.
“When you start making decisions based solely on skin color, that’s a legal issue,” Skrmetti told the Wall Street Journal. “There are some very hungry lawyers out there that are looking to go after all of that conduct.”