The Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action has caused shockwaves in the corporate world, sparking concerns that an increasing number of companies and corporations may face lawsuits for their controversial left-wing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, as well as their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) measures.
At the vanguard of the legal challenges to DEI and ESG measures is a federal anti-discrimination agency, the Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In a Fox News interview last week, EEOC Commissioner Andrea Lucas predicted that employers “don’t use the word affirmative action—it’s rampant today, from ESG, to focuses on equity, pretty much everywhere—there’s a ton of pressure at the corporate 100 across corporate America to take race-conscious decision-making.”
Lucas also warned that race-conscious decision-making in employment law, with actions such as race-restricted internships, mentoring, and promotions, “has been illegal and it’s still illegal.”
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling that race cannot be taken into consideration for college admissions was a landmark decision, as it overturned decades of precedent. The case involved the admissions policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard University. Republican-appointed justices formed the majority, while all Democrat-appointed justices were part of the minority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The ruling suggests that affirmative action may be a thing of the past, which could have an immense impact on lower-income, first-generation Latino, and DREAMER students. “This decision could make it significantly more difficult for minorities,” Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, wrote in a statement last week.
Still, it appears there are some who are not willing to accept the ruling, including Students for Fair Admissions Inc. (SFFA), the group involved in the lawsuit. Edward Blum, the head of SFFA, said the organization will take legal action if universities defiantly flout the ruling and federal Title VI and Equal Protection Clause law.
The EEOC’s Lucas, however, believed employers will be caught in the cross-hairs of legal action. She urged companies to “take a really hard look at the lawfulness of their corporate diversity programs,” adding, “to the extent that they are explicitly or implicitly taking race into decision-making, they are already violating the law.”
On the whole, the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action delivers a clear message to race-minded businesses. Race cannot be used to determine hiring, recruitment, or admission decisions, and anyone who wishes to challenge those practices could be met with legal action. As Lucas puts it, “We all want diversity, and there’s a lot of great methods that don’t involve unlawful practices.”