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Florida AG seeks investigation of Starbucks’ diversity goals

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination |

As an employer in Florida, you may find yourself struggling to understand some of the recently enacted employment laws.

However you feel about these laws, those who resist them can find themselves on the wrong end of legal action from the top of the state’s political hierarchy. For example, last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody said they’re calling for an investigation of Starbucks by the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

The governor and the AG are accusing the multinational conglomerate of discrimination in hiring. However, it’s not discrimination as most people think of it.

Claims that Starbucks is violating the law with “racial quotas”

The AG claims that Starbucks’ goal of hiring more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) violates state and federal law. The company has committed to having 30% of corporate jobs and 40% of retail and manufacturing jobs held by BIPOC employees by 2025. Further, Starbucks is tying a portion of its executives’ bonuses to their efforts to build a more diverse workforce at all levels.

The AG has called these goals “racial quotas.” She said, “When you start to see where it might start being an issue and violation of our own civil rights laws, the Human Rights Commission here in Florida has an obligation to investigate that.”

Attempt to end DEI in Florida was ruled unconstitutional

This isn’t the first time the DeSantis administration has tried to end diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs for employers in the state – with limited success. A federal appeals court earlier ruled that the controversial “Stop WOKE Act” was unconstitutional because it sought to regulate what employers could and couldn’t say about diversity.

It remains to be seen if this call for an investigation into Starbucks’ goals of creating a more diverse workforce will yield anything and, if so, what it means for other employers in the state. If you have questions or concerns, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.