Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jan 07, 2021

Court halts enforcement of executive order on diversity training

Affirmative ActionHarassment & Discrimination 

A federal district court has temporarily stopped the federal government nationwide from enforcing Executive Order 13950, Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, to the extent that the order prohibits federal contractors from training their employees on “divisive concepts” related to race and sex discrimination and puts federal grantees at risk of losing their grants if they provide such training. The organizations challenging the executive order were able to show that: (1) they’ll suffer immediate harm if the order is enforced against them; and (2) they’re likely to eventually win on their claims that the order violates their First Amendment right of free speech and is so vague that it violates their right to due process under the U.S. Constitution. Many of the organizations have a mission of combating discrimination in the communities they serve and they were concerned that teaching about concepts such as implicit bias would violate the order, thus jeopardizing their federal contracts or grants. We previously reported on the order, which was signed by President Trump on September 22, 2020, and we noted that it would almost certainly be subject to legal challenges (Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center v. Trump, ND Cal, Dec. 2020).

Tips: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)’s web page on Executive Order 13950 states that as a result of the court’s ruling, the OFCCP (for now) has turned off its hotline for people to file complaints about workplace training that may violate the order. The court’s ruling also means that federal contractors aren’t required to include language about the order in their subcontracts. Vigilant will keep members apprised of any new developments.

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