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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Compliance Attorneys
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are strategic endeavors to address diversity gaps in workplaces and educational environments. These initiatives have gained prominence across institutions and businesses but now face challenges from critics who view them as unconstitutional and otherwise illegal. Legislative efforts and legal challenges to eliminate or curtail DEI measures are underway in many states, reflecting the contentious climate.
On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s student admission policies because they used race as a factor in determining which students would be admitted. The Court stated that the use of race violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution because neither university presented sufficiently compelling reasons for the use of race. While the court’s decision focused on student admissions policies, it has led to several recent challenges and lawsuits regarding workplace DEI initiatives. Without question, the Court’s ruling in Harvard has emboldened individuals and organizations who oppose DEI measures, to move forward with lawsuits challenging those measures as illegal and unconstitutional.
The complexity of DEI efforts is compounded by various laws mandating diversity and equity measures. For instance, the Illinois Board of Higher Education Act now requires public colleges to submit equity plans enhancing access and completion for underrepresented students. Illinois school districts also face mandates for diversity and equity, including recruitment policies and implicit bias training.
Institutions must stay informed about evolving DEI laws and comprehensively assess their initiatives. Understanding legal compliance and anticipating potential change is crucial. The DEI practice area at Robbins Schwartz guides employers and educators on compliance with the various laws around equity and diversity initiatives. Robbins Schwartz’s DEI practice area is positioned to provide legal compliance reviews, audits, and training on DEI initiatives.