- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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.

The Republican governor’s chief of staff, Gardner Pate, wrote in a memo over the weekend 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 Monday 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.

The end goal is to increase diversity in the office and at job sites, but Mr. Pate’s letter argues that “these DEI initiatives are having the opposite effect.”

“Illegally adding DEI requirements as a screening tool in hiring practices or using DEI as a condition of employment leads to the exclusion and alienation of individuals from the workplace,” Mr. Pate wrote.

Two state-funded institutions — the Texas Department of Public Safety and University of Texas at Austin — have active postings for DEI-related jobs, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The newspaper also reported that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission pulled down a job posting for an equity consultant in January.

Texas Tech University announced Tuesday that it was going to stop requiring job applicants to submit DEI statements after it discovered one of its departments was requiring them.

The letter from Mr. Abbott’s administration comes a week after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, revealed a plan to prevent colleges from having DEI programs.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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