Gregory Kamer Quoted In Article Regarding Social Justice Initiatives

Volume: 19 | Issue: 66
October 26, 2020

Be sure to check out Gregg Kamer’s thoughts in a recent RealClearInvestigations article entitled Top-Down White Penitence Is Shaking Up and Roiling the American ‘Workplace’. This article addresses an important issue all employers should consider – are your efforts to improve race relations and address social justice issues creating new liability in the form of reverse discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits race and color discrimination against all persons, including Caucasians. As discussed in the RealClearInvestigations article, some employees are feeling pressured to embrace social justice stances with which they disagree or which denigrate their race.

It is important for employers to ensure that programs and trainings designed to address discrimination or diversity are not creating reverse discrimination claims. For example, in some circumstances, failing to promote a qualified employee who does not believe in gay marriage could give rise to a religious discrimination claim; ostracizing a white employee for refusing to confess his/her white privilege in a training session could give rise to a reverse discrimination claim. While the merit of these claims will depend upon the facts, they are costly to defend and create a potential for unintended and unwelcome backlash.

There are also implications to consider under the National Labor Relations Act if a social justice initiative becomes a term and condition of employment – e.g., a requirement for all employees to participate in a Black Lives Matter protest. Under the NLRA, all employees have the right to join together to change or protest a term and condition of their employment, with or without a union, and adverse action against them for such action would constitute an unfair labor practice.

The bottom line is that diversity and social justice programs should respect and celebrate all types of people – women and men, people of color and Caucasians, the disabled and non-disabled, LGBTQ and straight employees. To elevate, appreciate and understand one group, it is never necessary to exclude, denigrate or marginalize the other group.

We encourage you to approach social justice reforms openly, but in a way that carefully and judiciously protects all employees. As always, we are available to help you navigate these waters.

KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.

Subscribe to the KZA Employer Report