ARTICLE
10 April 2024

Oklahoma Governor Issues Executive Order Restricting IE&D Programs

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Hall Benefits Law

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Strategically designed, legally compliant benefit plans are the cornerstone of long-term business stability and growth. As such, HBL provides comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in M&A, ESOPs, executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, retirement plans, and ERISA litigation matters. Responsive, relationship-driven counsel is the calling card of the Firm.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has issued an executive order to severely restrict inclusion, equity, and diversity (IE&D) programs across the state.
United States Corporate/Commercial Law
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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has issued an executive order to severely restrict inclusion, equity, and diversity (IE&D) programs across the state. The order requires all state agencies and public colleges to report how much money they spend on IE&D programs and review the necessity and efficiency of all such programs to eliminate them and dismiss non-critical personnel. The governor's stated goal is to save Oklahoman tax dollars, encourage "equal opportunity" rather than promise "equal outcomes," and "take politics out of education."

Furthermore, the new law prohibits using state funds, property, or resources to grant or support IE&D positions, programs, or activities to the extent that they give preferential treatment based on one race, color, ethnicity, or national origin. The order also bans any mandated education, training, or programs to the extent that they grant preferences based on race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

The move comes as Republican officeholders throughout the state have increased attacks on IE&D programs. Other states, such as Florida and Texas, have enacted similar laws to eliminate DE&I efforts after the U.S. Supreme Court banned affirmative action in college admissions last year.

Oklahoma University issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the law and reaffirming its mission as a place of belonging and opportunities for everyone. Nonetheless, the institution indicated that it was reviewing the order to remain compliant with the law.

Likewise, Democratic lawmakers have responded to the executive order with concerns about the impact that it will have on business expansion in Oklahoma. They expressed that banning college students from learning about IE&D on state college campuses will adversely affect the pool of future business leaders and make it a less welcoming environment for others.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

ARTICLE
10 April 2024

Oklahoma Governor Issues Executive Order Restricting IE&D Programs

United States Corporate/Commercial Law

Contributor

Strategically designed, legally compliant benefit plans are the cornerstone of long-term business stability and growth. As such, HBL provides comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in M&A, ESOPs, executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, retirement plans, and ERISA litigation matters. Responsive, relationship-driven counsel is the calling card of the Firm.
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