A conservative legal watchdog group is demanding that LinkedIn take down its “Diversity in Recruiting” feature, claiming it’s in violation of last week’s Supreme Court ruling against race-based affirmative action in higher education.
The Microsoft-owned tech company professes to have 930 million members in more than 200 countries worldwide and acknowledge it collects demographic data that “may diversify the group of candidates displayed to recruiters.”
The Equal Protection Project attorneys, William Jacobson and Ameer Benno, sent their concerns to the LinkedIn headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. on July 5 after the nation’s highest court struck down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina as unconstitutional.
The implications for data used in recruiting is now resonating as a legal danger as employers are reassessing their diversity programs and preparing for possible legal challenges.
“Such discrimination simply cannot be justified as job-related or consistent with business necessity. That was the law prior to Students For Fair Admissions, and if there were the slightest doubt, the Supreme Court once and for all settled the issue. LinkedIn should take notice and adhere,” Jacobson and Benno said in a letter to LinkedIn.
The Supreme Court’s decision rested on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause but the dissenting justices in a scathing opinion said the ruling would deepen racial inequality on campuses creating fewer professionals of color.
In a statement to the Post, LinkedIn defended its diversity efforts for members and job hunters as proper.
“One way to make sure people have equal access is to understand the gender, race, ethnicity, and other important demographic information of our members and then to measure whether or not all are being afforded opportunities equitably on our platform.”
“Many hirers use LinkedIn to connect with diverse groups of qualified candidates for their roles. We often evaluate new ways to ensure that our tools recommend qualified candidates, but we don’t enable recruiters to filter out or exclude applicants based on their race, gender or other protected demographics,” the company said.
“People who use [our site] choose whether to share their demographic information and can control how their data is used through their settings.”
But the lawyers disputed the company’s explanation, saying LinkedIn is the one sorting and filtering members based on race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation for the recruiters.
Conservative advocacy groups celebrated the ruling, calling it a necessary step to ending racial bias and discrimination in education and the workforce.
Jacobson, while not saying whether he would file a discrimination suit against LinkedIn, told The Post “we put them on notice of the legal ramifications of what they are doing.”
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