On June 25th the California State Senate passed a resolution to place a proposition on the November ballot to repeal Proposition 209 and amend the state constitution. Proposition 209 passed in 1996 and amended the state constitution to prohibit state governmental institutions from considering race, gender, or ethnicity, specifically in the areas of public employment, contracting, and education.

If approved by voters, this constitutional amendment would remove language prohibiting public universities, schools, and government agencies from using race or gender in their admissions criteria, hiring, and contract decisions.

The Senate Floor argument in favor of the repeal states that disparities pertaining to race and gender in the workplace still exist and Proposition 209 prevents California leaders from taking active measures to address those disparities. The opposition to the repeal states the purpose of passing Proposition 209 was to prohibit preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Proposition 209 has faced several legal challenges both in state and federal courts. In 1996 after its passage, a federal district judge blocked enforcement. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently overturned that ruling, allowing the amendment to proceed.

Jackson Lewis will continue to track the ballot initiative to repeal Proposition 209 and other legislation pertaining to the workplace. If you have questions about this or related legislation contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.