Lawmakers and civil rights leaders have pushed back against a recent memo from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott calling for state agencies to end certain diversity, equity and inclusion practices.
Abbott’s office cautioned state employers against “rebranding” employment discrimination as DEI, referencing the use of such initiatives in hiring. “Illegally adding DEI requirements as a screening tool in hiring practices or using DEI as a condition of employment leads to the exclusion and alienation of individuals from the workplace,” he wrote.
The governor, through his chief of staff, also took aim at DEI roles in the Feb. 4 letter: “[W]hen a state agency spends taxpayer dollars to fund offices, departments, or employee positions dedicated to promoting forbidden DEI initiatives, such actions are also inconsistent with the law.”
Since then, a variety of stakeholders have urged action. The state’s NAACP has urged professional sports leagues and college athletic organizations to decline to host high-profile games in the state, according to local newspaper the Austin American-Statesman. And lawmakers last week said Abbott’s values do not reflect those of Texas, according to Texas Tribune coverage.
Florida similarly took aim at employer DEI efforts last year, in the form of legislation affecting private employers. A state law prohibited businesses from requiring training on certain concepts, including the idea that an individual’s status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex or national origin. A federal district court judge temporarily enjoined the law in August, saying it was a “naked viewpoint-based regulation on speech” in violation of the First Amendment.