Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office warned state agencies and public university leaders that hiring for any reason other than merit is against the law.
“Federal and state law forbid discrimination against a current or prospective employer because of that person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or military service,” Abbott’s Chief of Staff Gardner Pate wrote in a letter on Feb. 4. (pdf)
Many organizations have created Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies, which are touted as a way to build a more diverse workplace reflecting the diversity in society.
“Indeed, rather than increasing diversity in the workplace, these DEI initiatives are having the opposite effect and are being advanced in ways that proactively encourage discrimination in the workplace,” the letter continued. “Illegally adding DEI as a condition of employment leads to the exclusion and alienation of individuals from the workplace.”
Pate told agency and university heads that it is their duty to implement hiring policies based on merit.
“As Texans, we celebrate the diversity of our State and the presence of a workforce that represents our rich culture. In recent years, however, the innocuous-sounding notion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others,” Pate wrote.
“When a state agency adjusts its employment practice based on factors other than merit, it is not following the law,” he added.
The letter was a reminder that “state agencies and public universities must follow federal and state law in their hiring practices. Both federal and state law make equity quotas illegal,” said Renae Eze, spokesperson for Abbott, told The Epoch Times in a statement.
“Equity is not equality. Here in Texas, we give people a chance to advance based on talent and merit. Aspiring to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, we should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character,” Eze said.
Violating Civil Rights Act of 1964
Equity quotas violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was enacted to protect all persons from discrimination in the workplace and beyond.
The Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibits organizations from discrimination in the workplace, public places, schools, and beyond.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to enforce the laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, firing, promotions, and setting wages, training, and benefits.
Austin-based lawyer Andrew Eckhous of Kaplan Law Firm told The Texas Tribune that he believes the governor’s office is “completely mischaracterizing DEI’s role in employment decisions” in an effort to block such initiatives.
“Anti-discrimination laws protect all Americans by ensuring that employers do not make hiring decisions based on race, religion, or gender, while DEI initiatives work in tandem with those laws to encourage companies to solicit applications from a wide range of applicants, which is legal and beneficial,” Eckhous said.
Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vowed to eliminate all DEI and Critical Race Theory funding to state universities as part of his campaign to remove “woke” from the education system.