After filing a similar complaint against Kellogg last week, America First Legal petitioned the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) this week to investigate Activision’s alleged use of gender and racial preferences in hiring and internship programmes.
America First has filed EEOC complaints against Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), and Anheuser-Busch Companies LLC [RIC:RIC:ABIXXB.UL], and Hershey Co (HSY.N), among other “woke corporations.”
Stephen Miller, a key aide to Republican former President Donald Trump known for his extreme immigration stance, leads the group. Members of the board include former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
The accusations come as many analysts predict an increase in challenges to corporate diversity programmes in the aftermath of a June Supreme Court verdict that outlawed race-conscious college admissions methods.
According to Rick Rossein, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law, the increased scrutiny highlights the opposing demands that firms have to undertake diversity measures while reining them in the face of conservative criticism. Legal complaints such as those brought by America First may cause companies to be more cautious, he believes.
“There certainly is a deep psychological effect that is putting the brakes on the forward movement of diversity in the workplace,” said Rossein.
The accusations filed by America First include a variety of recruiting, promotion, and contracting programmes. They include a Starbucks campaign to increase senior leadership diversity and McDonald’s policy of evaluating CEOs in part based on their efforts to diversify the company’s workforce.
America First has also launched lawsuits against Target Corporation and Progressive Insurance, accusing them of breaching their shareholder duty by implementing diversity programmes and progressive marketing strategies, such as recognising LGBTQ Pride Month.
Kellogg said in a statement that the company abides by labour rules and has anti-discrimination measures in place. In a statement, Hershey claimed that it does not accept discrimination and that “we believe our business is stronger when we are inclusive.”
Morgan Stanley and Activision declined to comment. Requests for comment from the other companies were not returned.
It’s unclear whether the EEOC, which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws and presently has a Democratic majority, will take up America First’s concerns.
Employee complaints generally spark the agency’s investigations. However, its five commissioners, who the president nominates, can file their own complaints, which can lead to investigations and lawsuits.
So-called “commissioner’s charges” are uncommon, with 29 filed last year, up from three the previous two years.
Andrea Lucas, a Trump appointee, filed more charges than any of her colleagues last year. According to Lucas, poorly conceived diversity programmes may be illegal, and the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision should serve as a wake-up message to companies that they cannot include racial or gender preferences in employment policy.
Lucas refused to say whether she is considering pressing charges against any corporation for its diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) policy. Commissioners of the EEOC are constitutionally prohibited from verifying the existence of a specific accusation or investigation.
America First’s vice president and general counsel, Gene Hamilton, a former Trump administration lawyer, said in a statement that corporations should not “obsess” about the demographics of their workforces.
“Major corporations … apparently do not care as much about the quality of the products that they make, but the race and sex of the employees who make their products,” he remarked.