- By Azadeh Moshiri
- BBC News
More than a dozen Republican state prosecutors have threatened 100 top US companies with legal action over their workforce diversity programs.
She warned that corporate goals such as “race-based quotas” would become illegal after the Supreme Court banned colleges from using affirmative action in admissions.
Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Uber are being named by Republican attorneys general.
“Treating people differently because of the color of their skin, even for good purposes, is illegal,” she says.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Scremetti and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach led the effort and signed the letter along with 11 other attorneys general.
Other Fortune 100 companies named in the letter include Facebook, Airbnb, Paypal, Google, Netflix and Uber.
In a statement shared with the BBC, Mr Scremetti said, “The (Supreme) Court’s reasoning means that companies, whatever their motivation, cannot treat people differently based on the color of their skin.”
“Corporate America has many ways to help disadvantaged people and communities of all races without resorting to crude racial profiling.”
The group points to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that says Harvard and other US colleges can no longer consider race as a factor in admissions decisions.
Last month, the nation’s highest court voted 6-3 to strike down affirmative action, also known as affirmative action, a decades-old practice in the US.
At the time, Charlotte A. Burroughs, appointed by US President Joe Biden to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said the ruling “does not address employer efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce or to consider the abilities of all qualified workers and their backgrounds”.
But some experts had already predicted that the ruling would worry corporate counsel.
Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, told the BBC he was concerned “there could be a chilling effect because of this letter.”
Any companies that withdraw their diversity policies will have consequences, he said.
“Companies that don’t comply with these programs will be penalized by the young and the young like their own employees, so it won’t be as easy as the college admissions case,” he said.
Tillery Jr. cited last year’s employee walkout at Disney amid the company’s silence over Florida’s sex-education bill as an example of the internal pressures corporations can face.
But Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions and the activist who filed the affirmative action lawsuit, welcomed the letter from Republican officials.
He told the BBC: “It is long overdue for our country’s legal authorities to challenge these practices.”
The BBC has approached the companies named in the letter for comment.