Corporate DEI headed for legal test after Supreme Court affirmative action ruling

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The legality of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives could come down to the difference between “race-conscious” and “race-based” decision-making, according to federal employment law enforcers.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw affirmative action in college admissions this summer, employers are reassessing their hiring practices based on DEI ideology and whether those could be considered discriminatory by the current court and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

EEOC Vice Chairwoman Jocelyn Samuels, a Democrat, and Commissioner Andrea Lucas, a Republican, debated the topic at a discussion at the National Press Club hosted by the Federalist Society on Tuesday evening.

Samuels and Lucas, both appointees of former President Donald Trump, agreed that the decisions in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, for now, are applicable to the education space only. But both seemed to think the current court could be positioned to rule similarly on DEI-oriented corporate decision-making, including hiring and recruiting to affect the employment racial makeup.

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