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LinkedIn under legal scrutiny over discrimination in diversity data collection

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Conservative legal authorities are calling for the removal of LinkedIn's "Diversity in Recruiting" feature, alleging it violates a recent Supreme Court ruling against race-based affirmative action in higher education.

The Microsoft-owned company, with 930 million members across over 200 countries, acknowledges collecting demographic data “may diversify the group of candidates displayed to recruiters.”

Attorneys from the Equal Protection Project, William Jacobson and Ameer Benno, sent their concerns to LinkedIn's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, on Wednesday, July 5.

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It followed the Supreme Court's ruling that deemed race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina unconstitutional.

The implications of using data for recruiting purposes are now seen as a legal risk, with employers reassessing their diversity programs and preparing for potential legal challenges.

Jacobson and Benno wrote in a letter to LinkedIn, "Such discrimination simply cannot be justified as job-related or consistent with business necessity. 

“That was the law prior to Students For Fair Admissions, and if there were the slightest doubt, the Supreme Court once and for all settled the issue. 

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“LinkedIn should take notice and adhere."

While the Supreme Court's decision rested on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, dissenting justices argued in a scathing opinion that the ruling would perpetuate racial inequality on campuses, resulting in fewer professionals of color.

LinkedIn defended its diversity efforts, saying understanding the demographic information of its members allows for equal access and the measurement of equitable opportunities. 

The company says it doesn’t enable recruiters to filter or exclude applicants based on protected demographics, noting that users control their data and can manage its use through settings.

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However, the lawyers disputed LinkedIn's explanation, contending that the company sorts and filters members based on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation for recruiters.

Conservative advocacy groups celebrated the Supreme Court ruling, considering it a necessary step toward ending racial bias and discrimination in education and the workforce.

While not revealing if he would file a discrimination lawsuit against LinkedIn, Jacobson conveyed that they have alerted the company to the legal consequences of their actions.

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