Florida attorney general says state will investigate Starbucks for DEI practices

Florida's top legal officer on Wednesday said the state will investigate Starbucks, the multinational chain of coffeehouses, for its diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

"So many of these DEI policies that have been pushed in corporate America that were meant to address and prevent discrimination are now pushing policies and programs and initiatives that may in fact be unlawful employment practices, in fact becoming discriminatory themselves," Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said, while appearing on Sean Hannity's radio show, which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis guest hosted.

Moody filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which she said would launch a "full investigation." The decades-old commission is meant to enforce the Florida Civil Rights Act and address discrimination issues.

"We're going to make sure that this quota for hiring and programs that cause every employee to determine whether they are the problem based on the color of their skin, whether that violates Florida's anti-discrimination laws," Moody said.

The governor, an opponent of DEI programs who signed a bill last year banning such initiatives at state universities, thanked her for the work: "You should treat people as individuals, judge them based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin or their ethnicity or anything like that."

Both the Commission on Human Relations and Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Tallahassee Democrat, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Over the past few years, Republican lawmakers across the country have sought to dismantle DEI programs in higher education and in the corporate world. Since last year, some 85 anti-DEI bills have been introduced in 28 states, with 13 becoming law, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Conservative groups argue that the initiatives are discriminatory to those not benefitting from them, while supporters say programs are tackling systemic inequality.

More: Trump tried to crush the 'DEI revolution.' Here's how he might finish the job.

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Starbucks has a DEI page on its website

In the complaint, Moody accused the company of having policies that “appear on their face to discriminate on the basis of race.”

She pointed to a portion of Starbucks' website that mentioned the company’s “annual inclusion and diversity goals of achieving BIPOC representation of at least 30 percent at all corporate levels and at least 40 percent of all retail and manufacturing roles by 2025.”

She also brought up how executive bonuses were tied to DEI goals, which was also mentioned.

Starbucks promotes on a separate webpage a commitment to diversity and inclusion, saying it has anti-bias curriculum, pay equity and that it was working to "enhance our efforts in reaching a broader pool of candidates and reaching talent that brings new perspectives and experiences to improve our business and workplace."

But the company's investors earlier this year in a non-binding vote approved a plan to drop executive bonuses correlated with DEI goals.

Meantime, a federal appeals court recently OK'd a block on a key provision of Florida's "Stop WOKE Act."

That provision restricted businesses' diversity practices and trainings, blocking concepts that could make employees feel "personal responsibility" for actions committed in the past — such as discriminatory ones — by someone of the "same race, color, sex or national origin."

More: Florida Gov. DeSantis hosts Sean Hannity's radio show, warns of threat from the left

Contributing: Christopher Cann, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida will investigate Starbucks for DEI practices, AG says