- A federal judge Dec. 23 blocked President Donald Trump's executive order limiting diversity training as it applies to contractors.
- In a temporary, nationwide injunction, a judge said the "defendants are hereby enjoined from implementing or enforcing Sections 4 and 5 of Executive Order 13950 ... in any manner against any recipient of federal funding by way of contract, subcontract, grant, or sub-grant[.]"
- The injunction will stay in effect until the court acts on it, according to the order.
The executive order prohibited the teaching of "divisive concepts" in diversity training programs, including systemic race and sex discrimination and implicit race and sex biases, and created confusion for companies across the country. While the order remains in effect for federal agencies and U.S. uniformed services, contractors do not need to abide by the order for now.
Experts worried about — and said they had observed — a chilling effect on diversity training at various institutions, including private companies. The National Fair Housing Alliance had a "number of very clandestine, confidential conversations with industry stakeholders who are concerned about negative fallout" if they proceed with recently created racial equity initiatives, Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the organization, said during an October press conference.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) sent inquiries to Microsoft and Wells Fargo regarding their diversity and inclusion plans. Microsoft, the company revealed in a blog post, received questions regarding its pledge to double the number of Black and African American contributors, managers and executives in its U.S. workforce by 2025 and to invest $150 million over five years in its diversity and inclusion programs. According to the company, OFCCP asked Microsoft to prove that these actions were not illegal, race-based decisions. "Emphatically, they are not," Dev Stahlkopf, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel, said at the time.
This injunction comes in a case filed by the Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center; the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) also filed suit (representing, in part, the National Fair Housing Alliance). As for what comes next, opponents of the order say they hope President-elect Joe Biden will quickly rescind the executive order.
"I think it’s important for companies like Microsoft and Wells Fargo to express a commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all of its employees especially for employees in underrepresented groups who have historically and systematically been excluded from those opportunities," Jin Hee Lee, senior deputy director of litigation at the LDF, previously told HR Dive. "That is in no way a violation of Title VII. We have every hope that the new administration would have an accurate view of what anti-discrimination law entails."