UPDATE: This piece has been updated to reflect a statement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s administration warned universities that using Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) standards to hire prospective employees is a violation of civil rights law, according to a Monday letter obtained by the Texas Tribune.
Gardner Pate, Abbott’s Chief of Staff, wrote to public university leaders on Monday and said that considering factors outside of merit to judge applicants violates state and federal law, the Texas Tribune reported. It is also illegal for public institutions to use taxpayer dollars to fund DEI initiatives, according to Pate. (RELATED: University Department Drops ‘Ideological Purity Tests’ For Applicants After Report)
“As Texans, we celebrate the diversity of our State and the presence of a workforce that represents our rich culture. In recent years, however, the innocuous-sounding notion of [DEI] has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others,” Pate wrote, according to a copy of the memo posted to Twitter by Manhattan Institute fellow Christopher Rufo.
BREAKING: Texas Gov. Abbott’s chief of staff sent a letter to all state universities warning that their DEI programs violate civil rights law.
The fight against left-wing racialist ideology has just begun—and we will not stop until colorblind equality is the law of the land. pic.twitter.com/SXe4JPw9IG
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) February 8, 2023
DEI initiatives “proactively encourage discrimination in the workplace” and use of diversity statements or commitment to DEI “as a condition of employment” discriminates against applicants, Pate wrote in the memo.
“As the head of your agency, you have a duty to follow the law,” Pate wrote. “When a state agency adjusts its employment practices based on factors other than merit, it is not following the law.”
“Rebranding” hiring procedures as “DEI does not make the practice any less illegal,” Pate wrote. He also warned university leaders that it is also unlawful to use “taxpayer dollars to fund offices, departments, or employee positions dedicated to promoting forbidden DEI initiatives.”
“The letter from the Governor’s chief of staff is a reminder that state agencies and public universities must follow federal and state law in their hiring practices,” Renae Eze, Abbott’s spokesperson, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Both federal and state law make equity quotas illegal. Equity is not equality. Here in Texas, we give people a chance to advance based on talent and merit. Aspiring to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, we should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.”
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