America First Legal Asked the EEOC to Investigate Starbucks for Racial Discrimination in Hiring

America First Legal (AFL) is challenging corporations and educational institutions for using race in hiring and promotion decisions.

In the latest filing, AFL has asked the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate Starbucks for using race to hire employees. AFL also wrote demand letters to Starbucks chair Mellody Hobson and the board of directors, demanding that the company stop violating federal law.

Like other companies, Starbucks has “diversity and equity” policies that target “people of color” for benefits, to the exclusion of individuals who don’t fall into this category. But Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars racial discrimination in employment, even if that discrimination is called “diversity.”

From AFL’s letter to the EEOC:

The announced [Starbucks] training programs facially violate 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(d), which prohibits race, color, sex, or national origin discrimination “in admission to, or employment in, any program established to provide apprenticeship or other training.” The announced racial balancing program facially violates 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Also, as of January 11, 2022, the company’s self-reported employment data shows that 71% of all its employees are female and that its workforce is “48.2% BIPOC.” This means that white employees, particularly white men, are statistically underrepresented in the company’s workforce, and potentially the subjects of invidious discrimination.

Racial balancing requires hiring managers to factor in race when making decisions to hire or not to hire individuals. The AFL cites the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), in which the court contended that discrimination based on immutable characteristics like race “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

AFL made a similar complaint in August against Pete Buttigieg, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), over the agency’s so-called Equity Action Plan to help “level the playing field” by factoring in race in hiring, promoting, and firing. AFL asked the EEOC to investigate and sent Buttigieg a cease-and-desist letter.

The legal firm also urged the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and the Office of Special Counsel to open investigations into DOT’s illegal practices.

AFL filed a lawsuit last month against Texas A&M University for hiring faculty based on race. The school created the Fellowship Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship, or ACES Plus, to provide $2 million to hire new mid-career and senior tenure-track people “from underrepresented minority groups.”

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