The general counsel for Wal-Mart has told its outside counsel that “at least one person of color and one woman” must be on any legal team working on the company’s business, according to the Fulton County Daily Report today . Visa International, Del Monte, Pitney Bowes, and Cox Communications are making similar demands, according to the article.
This is outrageous—and illegal. Quotas require discrimination, and federal law prohibits racial discrimination in deciding with whom you will contract. Federal law also prohibits employment discrimination, which is what law firms who accede to Wal-Mart’s quota demands will be engaging in.
Wal-Mart’s general counsel crowed, “We are terminating a firm right now strictly because of their inability to grasp our diversity expectations.” The law firm should sue. Lawyers at other firms who are denied spots on legal teams because they are the wrong color or sex should sue, too.