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| 1 minute read
Reposted from t|e General Counsel - Insights

DEI in Auto Racing Faces Legal Challenge

An activist group has claimed that NASCAR's diversity programs, including its diversity driver development program, diversity pit crew development program, and diversity internship program, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits discrimination based on race and sex.

It is no secret that motorsports, including NASCAR, can be an expensive endeavor. This financial barrier has resulted in limited participation from individuals belonging to diverse backgrounds, particularly women and minorities. Recognizing the need for change, NASCAR has made efforts to improve diversity within the sport over the past two decades.

Despite these initiatives, the representation of women and minorities in NASCAR's top national series, the Cup Series, remains limited. Currently, there is only one Latino, one Japanese American, one Black driver, and no female drivers in this series.

As organizations design DEI programs, they do so for many reasons.  In NASCAR's, it is to broaden the appeal of its product beyond its traditional audience. Other businesses may do so to improve recruiting, retention, employee engagement, productivity, and sales. But legal challenges to these programs are in vogue.  (See the recent challenge to the Fearless Fund).

Organizations would be wise to ensure that the design and implementation of these programs are legally compliant and resulting in positive engagement with the diverse target audience. It is important to consider factors beyond race and gender in the design of these programs. Rather, focusing on socio-economic and other factors, which often have a disparate impact on women and minorities, might be equally impactful to ensure diverse participation in these programs and broader social benefits. Finally, it is important to have disciplined communication about these programs to stakeholders, to ensure that statements aren't taken out of context to infer a discriminatory purpose, when the purpose is in fact remedial.

AFL claims NASCAR and Rev Racing’s programs that include its “diversity driver development program, diversity pit crew development program” and the “NASCAR diversity internship program” violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and sex. Previously, the programs specified they were for women and ethnic minorities. They were updated Sept. 1 to say applicants were sought with “diverse backgrounds and experiences,” according to the AFL’s letter to the EEOC. NASCAR’s programs over the last 20 years have increased diversity throughout the sport; however, most of the drivers and team members are white men. In NASCAR’s top national series—the Cup Series—when it comes to drivers there is one Latino, one Japanese American, one Black and no females.


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