September 7, 2023

Legal Challenges Mount as Companies Face Lawsuits Over Diversity Programs

Diversity programs continue to come under fire as Meta Platforms Inc. and three entertainment groups face lawsuits.

What has been happening?

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against colleges and universities considering race in their admissions process and ending Affirmative Action, there have been several lawsuits against diversity programs.

Following that, conservative group American Alliance for Equal Rights, led by Edward Blum, filed lawsuits against law firms Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster, challenging their diversity fellowships.

The lawsuits alleged these fellowships unlawfully discriminated against white candidates and requested that racial considerations be eliminated from fellowship selections.

He also brought a lawsuit against Fearless Fund, which supports women of color who own small businesses, despite venture capital firms in 2022 deploying $288 billion, with women of color founders only receiving 0.39% of the total funding.

Increasing Lawsuits

The conservative America First Legal Foundation, led by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday against Meta, Something Ideal Inc., the Association of Independent Commercial Producers and BBDO Worldwide Inc.

The suit alleges the groups discriminated against James Harker, a White man who worked behind the camera on commercials, feature films and television productions for nearly three decades.

The complaint said he was denied job opportunities reserved for candidates of color.

The suit targets the legality of AICP’s “Double the Line” diversity program, which partners with advertisers and agencies to boost career opportunities for Black, and Indigenous people and people of color in the advertising industry.

Diversity In Advertising

An American Association of Advertising Agencies (The 4A’s) report recently found unsolved issues in the advertising industry.

While 2021 witnessed a surge in diversity and inclusion efforts, momentum seemingly dwindled in 2022.

Over the last year, efforts have begun to decrease, including the media industry losing four Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leaders in two weeks.

Furthermore, the 4A’s report indicated a rise in the number of agencies led by white CEOs from 2021 to 2022.

In 2022, the advertising sector remained largely white-dominated, with the industry comprising white professionals at 64.63%.

The diversity breakdown also included 12.41% Hispanic or Latinx, 11.3% Asian, 6.99% Black, 2.88% Middle Eastern, and smaller percentages of Native American and Pacific Islanders.

However, Reed D. Rubinstein, a senior counsellor at America First Legal, said, “For many decades, New York and Federal law have prohibited discrimination based on race, color, national origin and sex.”

“The Defendants, with their morally twisted “woke” view that racism, bigotry and sexism actually are perfectly fine whenever they decide it to be so, have arrogantly declared themselves above the law.”

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.