Friday, June 11, 2021

Do job interview questions about commitments to diversity violate state laws against discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint?

Insider.com recently profiled Jeffrey Housman, who is “chief people and services officer at Restaurant Brands International.”  Part of the article explains that:

One of the first DEI initiatives Housman's team spearheaded was a change to the interview process. RBI hiring managers now ask job candidates in their first interview what diversity means to them, and how they'd champion diversity if they joined the team. And, across RBI's corporate offices, at least 50% of all candidates in the final interview round must be "from groups that are demonstrably diverse, including race."

Putting aside the legality of the interview quotas, this reminded me of the debate a few years ago regarding “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” statements required of applicants for faculty positions at a number of UC campuses.  An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argued that:

This system specifically excludes those who believe in a tenet of classical liberalism: that each person should be treated as a unique individual, not as a representative of an identity group. Rather than helping achieve inclusion, these DEI rubrics act as a filter for those with nonconforming views…. Mandatory diversity statements can too easily become a test of political ideology and conformity.

There are grounds for concluding that Democrats have become the party of racial discrimination in the name of anti-discrimination (see, e.g., here and here), while Republicans defend the colorblind ideal that: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”  (We can assume that both parties take their respective positions in the good faith belief that they are championing the best way forward for us as a nation and, in particular, for the continued progress of historically marginalized groups.)  To the extent this partisan divide exists, do job interview questions asking about commitments to diversity violate state laws against discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2021/06/do-job-interview-questions-about-commitments-to-diversity-violate-state-laws-against-discrimination-on-the-basis-of-political.html

Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink

Comments

This is a straw man argument. You can be republican and believe in diversity. One does not exclude the other.

Posted by: James | Jun 11, 2021 10:14:08 PM

I agree that a political viewpoint discrimination claim likely goes nowhere if there is no relevant differentiation of candidates beyond assessing whether they “believe in diversity”. However, we might start to get a partisan sorting if, for example, candidates are moved to the front of the line if they express support for quotas.

Posted by: Stefan | Jun 12, 2021 5:11:16 AM

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