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Federal Government Offers More Guidance on Diversity Training Restrictions and Opens Complaint Hotline

    Client Alerts
  • October 09, 2020

Last week, EmployNews reported on a new executive order that prohibits federal contractors from providing employees with diversity, harassment, or unconscious bias training that includes what the Trump administration calls "offensive and anti-American" ideology. The order becomes effective November 21. But since it was issued, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum indicating that such training may violate existing anti-discrimination requirements under a separate executive order (E.O. 11246), which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race or sex.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Labor Department announced that it has already established an employee hotline to accept complaints about training, and it will immediately begin reviewing contractor training materials for signs of bias. The guidance lists seven terms that it says can trigger additional regulatory scrutiny of such plans: “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” “positionality,” “racial humility,” and “unconscious bias.”

Contractors will be required to certify that their training programs do not contain these topics. While the executive order and guidance are likely to be challenged in federal court, in the meantime, affected employers should carefully review their training materials in order to evaluate how to address these new requirements.