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NAACP sues OFCCP, OMB for records related to Trump’s diversity training order

By Wayne D. Garris Jr., J.D.

Although the Executive Order has been repealed, the civil rights organization argues that the records are necessary to determine the motivations behind the order and how to remedy any remaining injuries the order may have caused.

On February 28, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed separate lawsuits against the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) under the Freedom of Information Act, after the two agencies failed to respond to the organization’s requests for documents related to rescinded Executive Order 13950. EO 13950 was a controversial Trump administration executive order that prohibited federal government agencies and contractors from conducting diversity training that examined “divisive concepts” such as systemic racism, unconscious bias, and intersectionality. The EO has since been rescinded by President Biden.

FOIA requests. In October 2020, the NAACP sent FOIA requests seeking various documents related to the creation of, financial impact of, and communications concerning the EO. After several months of negotiations with both agencies, the NAACP still had not received responsive records and proceeded with the instant complaints.

The NAACP asserts that even though the EO has been repealed, the records it is seeking are “are critical to understanding the motivations behind the Order and the extent of its implementation and harm” and “essential to determining what additional action may be needed to remedy any remaining injuries stemming from the Order.”

“The chilling effect of former President Trump’s Executive Order—which sought to rewrite this nation’s history by barring discussions about the legacy and impact of systemic racism and gender discrimination—demands a comprehensive evaluation,” said Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel in a press release. “Federal agencies are obligated to provide the information necessary for LDF and any other interested members of the public to assess the dangerous impact this order may have had. And we are prepared to force the government to comply with its public information obligations to the full extent of the law.”

The complaints allege that each agency violated the FOIA’s requirements to provide a determination within 20 business days and to make records publicly available. The NAACP is seeking declaratory relief, an order requiring OMB and OFCCP to immediately disclose the requested records, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

The cases, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. v. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. v. Office of Management and Budget, were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case are Nos. 1:21-cv-01152 and 1:21-cv-01162.