August 16, 2022

DEI Initiatives Gone Awry

A judge reportedly reduced a jury’s award of $10M to $4M.  The award was to a white male who was found to have been discriminated against based on his sex and race.

The employer initiated a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program. Even the Plaintiff “conceded” the program was properly implemented. It may have been an unintended consequence, however, when he lost his job and was replaced by two women, one of whom was a minority. That alone might not have been sufficient evidence.  The jury might have been swayed by the fact that five other executive-level, white men were replaced by women and/or non-whites.

Lessons learned.  Like affirmative action, DEIBA initiatives can have positive outcomes – from an employee and community relations standpoint, as well as from a business perspective.  They can also create legal challenges when not properly administered.  When terminating employees and filling vacant positions, partner with HR. Look at your demographic data. Watch for any trends. If you see a pattern based on race, sex, or any other protected status, monitor.  Understand what is driving that result. Consider other strategies that might minimize the impact. And consider doing so under the direction of your company’s legal counsel.

FREE Resource! If this topic is of interest and you missed the FREE webcast on September 22nd, “DEIBA: Good Intentions, Unintended Consequences,” you can access it here.  Pre-approved by HRCI and SHRM for 1.0 credit.