Affirmative Action & The Workplace

Hello, and welcome to LegalEase. Today’s topic is Affirmative Action and the Workplace.

By now, we have all heard about the US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision overturning the long-standing affirmative action program and ruling that colleges and universities can no longer use race as a basis for admissions. How does this ruling impact the workplace?

Prior to the Court’s opinion, several companies and organizations such as Google, Apple, Starbucks, and the American Bar Association filed briefs urging the Court to maintain affirmative action in colleges and universities. They argued that if the Court limited the diverse candidate pool, it would trickle down to the workplace. And, this is exactly what we expect to happen now that the court has overturned affirmative action in colleges and universities.

Employers are concerned about not having a diverse pool of candidates. Employers are also concerned about the impact the opinion will have on workplace DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) programs and, specifically, about prospective challenges to their DEI programs. In fact, Justice Gorsuch stated in his concurring opinion that federal law bans race bias in both higher education and the workplace, which may be a signal to some groups that they can move forward with challenging corporate DEI programs.

What can employers do now? Employers should review current DEI programs to ensure they comply with federal law and remain steadfast to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The ask has never been for colleges, universities, or employers to consider unqualified candidates for positions. The ask has always been to recognize that not every community has the same resources from K-12. The ask has been for colleges, universities, and employers to act affirmatively in creating environments that are inclusive so that all people feel welcome. The ask has been simple – allow black and brown candidates into the room; you’ll be impressed.

Thank you for joining LegalEase. If you have any questions about your DEI program or the Court’s ruling, then give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.