The letter sent by the attorneys general says "race-based employment and contracting violates both state and federal law, and as the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states we intend to enforce the law vigorously."
Thirteen state attorneys general sent a letter late last week to the nation’s largest employers warning them that they’ll “face serious legal consequences” if they use racial preferences in recruiting, hiring and contracting decisions.
The letter to Fortune 100 firms is the latest evidence that, while the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month striking down affirmative action in college admissions applies only to the education sector, it is emboldening critics of companies’ increasingly aggressive programs to bolster workplace diversity.
“We urge you to immediately cease any unlawful race-based quotas or preferences your company has adopted for its employment and contracting practices,” they write.“
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 states’ top law enforcement officers added.
The letter calls out tech companies such as Airbnb, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, Lyft, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal and Uber for using what the attorneys general characterize as quotas to increase minority representation in their workforces and in their supplier networks.
“Such overt and pervasive racial discrimination in the employment and contracting practices of Fortune 100 companies compels us to remind you of the obvious: Racial discrimination is both immoral and illegal. Such race-based employment and contracting violates both state and federal law, and as the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states we intend to enforce the law vigorously,” the letter, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, says.
Federal law bars employers from considering race and other protected characteristics in employment decisions. Corporations have claimed their diversity, equity and inclusion programs comply with the law, but many conservative Republicans contend they do not.
The signatories, which include the attorneys general of Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and South Carolina, said discriminatory DEI programs, even if they are well-intentioned, are “just as illegal as invidious discrimination.”
Experts had predicted a Supreme Court ruling shooting down affirmative action at colleges would have a chilling effect on DEI programs. Many companies said after the ruling that their commitment to DEI is undiminished.