Pfizer’s Diversity Fellowship Under Scrutiny at Second Circuit

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A group representing White and Asian American applicants will try to persuade a federal appeals court in Manhattan to revive its challenge to a Pfizer Inc. fellowship program designed to build a diverse workforce. Do No Harm, an advocacy membership group of health-care professionals, students, and policy makers, will participate in oral arguments Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in its bid to shut down the pharmaceutical giant’s diversity program on the ground that it violates federal civil rights laws and the Affordable Care Act. The case gives the Second Circuit the opportunity to clarify the legal issue of whether a plaintiff organization must identify at least one member by name in order to have standing to sue. But at its core the dispute concerns corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion practices that critics say are racially discriminatory. The arguments come amid increasing legal threats and lawsuits by conservative groups to stop DEI programs, which were bolstered by the US Supreme Court’s recent decision curtailing the use of race as a factor in college admissions. The high court case concerned race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina....