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President Biden Revokes Trump Administration’s Workplace Diversity Training Restrictions

On his first day in Office, President Biden issued Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” (“Executive Order”), stating that “[i]t is . . . the policy of [his] Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all.” The Executive Order revokes President Trump’s Executive Order 13950, which had imposed restrictions on workplace diversity training under the guise of combatting race and sex stereotyping.

As we reported in our October 20, 2020 Act Now AdvisoryExecutive Order Prohibits Inclusion of “Divisive” Concepts in Workplace Training, Executive Order 13950 prohibited federal government contractors, as well as federal agencies, the military, and recipients of federal grants, from using a workplace training program that “inculcates in [their] employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating.”  While training employees to create an inclusive workplace was deemed appropriate and beneficial, programs that appeared to support concepts such as implicit bias, systemic racism, white privilege, male privilege, and the idea that the United States is a racist country, were not.

The new Executive Order requires the heads of federal agencies, within 60 days of the date of the Order (i.e., March 21, 2021), to consider suspending, revising, or rescinding any action related to or arising from Executive Order 13950.  In response, the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) announced on January 27, 2021, the specific additional steps it was taking, including:

  • Rescinding the Frequently Asked Questions section related to Executive Order 13950.

  • Eliminating the telephone hotline and email address set up to receive complaints relating to Executive Order 13950.

  • Administratively closing any complaints regarding alleged noncompliance with Executive Order 13950.

  • Not enforcing any of the provisions of Executive Order 13950 contained in any federal government contracts or subcontracts.

Accordingly, federal government contractors and grant recipients may resume their workplace diversity training programs without restriction.

©2023 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 34

About this Author

Susan Gross Sholinsky, Labor Employment Attorney, Epstein Becker Green Law Firm
Member of the Firm

SUSAN GROSS SHOLINSKY is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. She counsels clients on a variety of matters, in a practical and straightforward manner, with an eye toward reducing the possibility of employment-related claims. In 2013, Ms. Sholinsky was named to theNew York Metro Rising Stars list in the area of Employment & Labor.

Robert J. O’Hara Labor and employment lawyer Epstein Becker
Member of the Firm

ROBERT J. O’HARA* is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. His practice focuses on employment law counseling and litigation as well as human resources counseling, compliance, and training.

Mr. O’Hara’s experience includes:

  • Conducting and overseeing workplace investigations (including sexual harassment, bribery, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, product quality, supply chain theft, and malfeasance of every kind), executive terminations, and...
Peter M. Stein, Epstein Becker Green, National Employer Representation,

PETER M. STEIN is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice of Epstein Becker Green. Based in the firm's Stamford office, where he serves as the Managing Shareholder, he represents both national and regional employers in all aspects of labor and employment law.

Dean R. Singewald II, Epstein Becker, EEO Compliance Lawyer, Labor Attorney

DEAN R. SINGEWALD II is an Associate in the Labor and Employment and Litigation practices in the Stamford office of Epstein Becker Green. He represents employers, taking a practical and cost-efficient, results-driven approach, in all facets of employment law, from hire to separation, including affirmative action and EEO compliance, representation before the OFCCP, and litigation.

Kathleen M. Williams Healthcare Attorney Epstein Becker Green

Kathleen M. Williams is a Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the Washington, DC, office of Epstein Becker Green. She represents clients with regard to employment matters, including advice and counsel, compliance, investigations, and litigation.

Ms. Williams’s experience includes:

  • Advising clients on and litigating employment, discrimination, harassment, disabilities, non-compete, wage and hour, and general litigation matters in...