The administration of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is telling state agencies and public universities that using diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring decisions is illegal. As it should be.
The Republican governor’s chief of staff, Gardner Pate, wrote in a memo that the DEI initiatives may sound innocuous, but are actually an underhanded way to “push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others.” “When a state agency adjusts its employment practices based on factors other than merit, it is not following the law,” Mr. Pate wrote. “Rebranding this employment discrimination as ‘DEI’ does not make the practice any less illegal.”
The memo was first reported by the Texas Tribune. One of the memos was obtained by KHOU in Houston, and was sent to Porter Wilson, the head of the state’s Employees Retirement System. Mr. Pate didn’t clarify which demographic groups are being discriminated against as a result of DEI initiatives. But he did say that spending taxpayer dollars to fund DEI offices, departments and positions are outside the scope of the law.
The memo didn’t cite any specific laws that were being violated by DEI practices. It did use language that suggested the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin. Proponents for DEI argue that the policies create a more welcoming workplace for people who are underrepresented or have been historically discriminated against, such as racial and sexual minorities, and people with disabilities.