In July 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court gravely restricted the use of affirmative action in college admissions when it handed down its decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. Since that decision, many questions have arisen over how the Court’s ruling will impact Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the workplace.
In the aftermath of the Court’s historic decision there has been a notable increase in legal challenges to workplace DEI programs. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently announced a frontal assault on corporate diversity programs, and several lawsuits have already been filed against employers who promote diversity efforts – including Comcast, Amazon, and Starbucks. Further, thirteen Attorneys General have begun to issue warnings to U.S. employers threatening legal action if they continue their DEI efforts.
The Nilan Johnson Lewis Labor and Employment team believes that companies can and should continue to commit to its DEI efforts in light of the Supreme Court’s decision, and reminds employers that, notwithstanding the Students for Fair Admissions decision, it remains lawful for employers to implement DEI programs that strive to ensure equal opportunity in the workplace for workers of all backgrounds. We also encourage employers to review their internal policies and procedures to avoid any unnecessary risks, and are here to help with these efforts.