Media

Is The Huffington Post Breaking Discrimination Laws With Its New Racial Quota System?

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Joe Simonson Media Reporter

The Huffington Post deputy opinion editor shared her publication’s policy for promoting minority writers, yet creating a quota-like system based on race or gender could violate U.S. discrimination laws.

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, HuffPost editor Chloe Angyal discussed the racial makeup of the news website’s opinion columnists for the month.

One tweet seems to disclose a kind of quota system at the opinion section, with Angyal discussing her “goals” for the racial and gender composition of contributors.

Merely striving for a more diverse workplace isn’t unlawful. However, giving preference to one job candidate over another — or simply declining to even consider a candidate — because of his or her race can be a violation of discrimination laws.

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As Angyal admits, she tracks the race and gender identity of contributors at the beginning of each week so she “doesn’t lose tack” of meeting the diversity goals.

Casey Wolnowski, a New York-based employment discrimination attorney at the firm Phillips & Associates saw potential violations with the HuffPo’s policies.

“Generally speaking [I’m] leery of racial quotas and what impact those might have on being discriminatory. I understand the value of a diverse workforce, but before even assessing the individual merits or individual qualifications … to say we’re automatically determining what the quota system is gonna be, I think that’s potentially problematic,” Wolnowski told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Both state and federal laws protect individuals from discriminatory hiring practices based on race. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee or job applicant on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, national origin, or sex (including pregnancy).”

In New York, which houses HuffPost’s headquarters, the New York State Human Rights Law states that it “is illegal for an employer or licensing agency to refuse to hire or employ, or to fire an individual on the basis of his or her creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability, military status, domestic violence victim status or predisposing genetic characteristics,” according to the attorney general’s website.

Moreover, the law also forbids employers printing or circulating “job advertisements that express any limitation, specification or discrimination based on the protected categories, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification.”

“But before even interviewing anyone … to say that there is a quota system in place, I think that company is going to run into some potential [legal] problems,” said Wolnowski.

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