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Volume XIII, Number 82


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U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Publishes DEI Factsheet

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has published a factsheet entitled “Diversity and Inclusion Activities Under Title VI,” clarifying that diversity, equity, and inclusion training “in most factual circumstances” is consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).

Title VI provides that “no person … shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination” due to “race, color, or national origin” by any program or initiative that receives federal funding. According to the factsheet released by OCR, “[a]ctivities intended, in whole or in part, to further objectives such as diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion are not generally or categorically prohibited under Title VI.”

Determining whether an activity or program of a school or college (including diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts) results in prohibited intentional different treatment because of a person’s race or the creation of a racially hostile environment requires assessing the totality of the circumstances in each particular case. OCR has enumerated activities it does not see as “categorically prohibitive” under Title VI, including:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion training;

  • Instruction in or training on the impact of racism or systemic racism;

  • Cultural competency training or other nondiscrimination trainings;

  • Efforts to assess or improve school climate, including through creation of student, staff, or parent teams, use of community focus groups, or use of climate surveys;

  • Student assemblies or programs focused on antiharassment or antibullying;

  • Investigations of, and issuance of reports concerning the causes of, racial disparities within a school; or

  • Use of specific words in school policies, programs, or activities, such as equity, discrimination, inclusion, diversity, systemic racism, or similar terms.

OCR highlights that for years, in agreeing to resolve OCR Title VI investigations, schools and colleges have implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion activities (including those outlined above) to remedy potential different treatment of students, provide remedial measures to address harassing conduct, assist in remedying other forms of discrimination on the basis of race, and foster a more positive and inclusive school climate. OCR’s factsheet provides that these activities are generally compliant with the law on permissible diversity, equity, and inclusion activities.

OCR’s release of the factsheet comes as some states seek to or have enacted laws (such as Florida’s Anti-Woke law) to limit or restrict certain diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and training.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 39

About this Author

Monica H. Khetarpal, Litigation Experience, Discrimination, Wage and Hour Violations, Jackson Lewis Law Firm

Monica H. Khetarpal is a Principal in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her litigation experience includes cases involving claims for discrimination, harassment, wage and hour violations, FMLA violations, disability discrimination and requests for accommodation in both single plaintiff and class action matters. She regularly handles matters at all levels, from administrative agencies to appeals in both state and federal courts.

Ms. Khetarpal focuses a significant portion of her practice on representing higher education clients and serves as co...

Susan D. Friedfel Employment law attorney for educational instituions in White Plains, NY of Jackson Lewis law firm

Susan D. Friedfel is a Principal in the White Plains and New York, New York, offices of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Ms. Friedfel collaborates with clients to find practical solutions for a variety of issues that arise in the workplace. She counsels clients in various industries, including law firms, financial institutions, educational institutions, and not-for-profit organizations, on a wide array of issues.

Susan D. Friedfel  provides advice and counsel on matters such as:

  • employee recruiting and hiring practices
  • family and medical leave
  • reasonable...
Carol R. Ashley Labor & Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis Washington, D.C.
Of Counsel

Carol R. Ashley is of counsel in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

Joshua R. Adams Workplace Litigation Attorney Jackson Lewis Charlotte, NC

Joshua R. Adams is an Associate in the Charlotte, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including litigation, preventive advice, and counseling.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Mr. Adams was an associate at a large regional firm representing employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation claims before the North Carolina Industrial Commission. He has experience handling general civil defense litigation in a wide variety of matters. 

Mr. Adams also served...