Ropes & Gray and Lambda Legal File Preliminary Injunction in Case Challenging Trump Administration Ban on Diversity Trainings

In The News
November 18, 2020

On November 16, Ropes & Gray and Lambda Legal filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking to bar the Trump administration from implementing its recent Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings. The Executive Order also prevents these agencies from engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society. The filing is part of a lawsuit filed earlier in November by Ropes & Gray and Lambda Legal that challenges the ban.

The Executive Order, issued on September 22, and later Trump administration guidance, labels the discussion of intersectionality, critical race theory, white privilege, systemic racism, or implicit or unconscious bias in diversity training as “race and sex scapegoating” and forbids agencies from “promot[ing]” these “divisive concepts.” Administration officials have described such trainings as un-American, and the Executive Order and subsequent guidance direct agency heads to audit internal training curricula and discontinue these trainings, to conduct a similar audit of federal contractors, and to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant-funded activities cover these topics.

On November 2, Lambda Legal and Ropes & Gray filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a consulting company, an individual plaintiff, and six organizational plaintiffs. The organizational plaintiffs include LGBT Centers, an advocacy and service organization for LGBT seniors, and HIV/AIDS health and advocacy organizations from across the country. 

The Ropes & Gray team includes litigation & enforcement partners Douglas Hallward-Driemeier and Anne Johnson-Palmer, litigation & enforcement associates Ethan Weinberg, Thanithia Billings, and Nathalia Sosa and litigation program paralegal Fred Boehrer and litigation paralegal specialist William Richard Allen.