Donald Trump’s diversity training system faces lawsuit

Donald Trump’s diversity training system faces lawsuit

New York: Three civil rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order prohibiting federal agencies, contractors and recipients from providing some diversity training that described the president as “anti-American”. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint on Thursday in federal court in Washington, DC, with the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance. The lawsuit argued that Trump’s order violates free speech rights and attempts to address organized race and sexual discrimination to strangers at the workplace.
Both the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance have federal contracts and plan to apply for the future.
The complaint argues that the executive order “unconstitutionally compels the plaintiff to choose between censoring speech on these important issues or providing any opportunity to enter into a federal contract.”
In Trump’s executive order, signed last month, called for workplace trainings that explore deep-seated racism and privilege that the administration says can make white workers feel “inconvenienced” or guilt-ridden. The president ordered the Labor Department to establish a hotline to investigate complaints about training sessions, which Trump has called “anti-American” and “blame-focused.”
Trump has said he is targeting training based on “critical race theory”, an idea that racism has allowed American history and institutions. In the first presidential debate, Trump said that such training is “teaching people to hate our country.” The directive uses a 55-year-old presidential order by the Civil Rights Movement that seeks to ban discriminatory practices on companies that contract with the federal government. Critics say Trump’s order prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson’s vehicle in 1965 took the initiative for white complaints.
“The executive order smells of authoritarianism of white supremacy,” National Urban League President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Morial said in a virtual press conference.
Morial called the order “a direct attack on our mission”. According to the lawsuit, the National Urban League has a federal contract that includes developmental diversity and inclusion training programs for the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship programs.
The Department of Labor states that the order does not ban “unconscious bias” training that discusses “pre-conceptions, ideas, or stereotypes” that people may have about others. But it prohibits training that refers to someone being racist or sexist “on the basis of his or her race, gender and / or national origin.” In a statement, the Department of Labor stated that “it is confident that it will prevail in this lawsuit.”
“The elimination of race and sex stereotyping and the issue of employment sacrifice is a major civil right of the Trump administration,” the department said.
However, the lawsuit stated that the order’s adherence is overly broad and already has a chilling effect on diversity training. The complaint states that some organizations have said that words such as “systemic racism” and “white privilege” should be banned from training. It cited the University of Iowa decision to suspend its diversity efforts for fear of losing government funding.
Michelle Lee, co-founder and CEO of Awaken, which offers diversity and inclusion workshops, said one of her clients – a private company with a government contract – reached out soon after issuing an order asking if she had “white privilege” Can leave. In a speech he planned to give to his employees. Lee said he pushed back, saying he did not believe the language would violate the order and the company trusted him.
“I gave a speech and I was extra spicy. Not only did I talk about white privilege, but I moved it forward to talk about white supremacy culture,” Lee said.
He said that another client, a nonprofit that relies on government grants, has asked if Awaken planned to improve its training. But Lee said that no professional diversity trainer would mean that any group has an unconscious bias.
“Of course we’re not going to stand up and say, ‘you guys are inherently racist,” Lee said.
Within the government, the Department of Justice has suspended all diversity and inclusion training. The government has also canceled training programs at the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The National Fair Housing Association, which currently has a contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in the lawsuit that it conducts internal training and discussion to address “systemic racism, subliminal bias and racial disparities”.
These include a recent “informal conversation” with employees concerning “perceptions of whites and other demographic groups” regarding the murder of George Floyd.
The Labor Department is using the 1965 presidential order to target companies, including Microsoft and Wells Fargo, on public commitments to increase or publicize Black and Hispanic representation in leadership roles. The government made inquiries at both companies, warning against using “discriminatory practices” to accomplish their goals.

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