December 20, 2023

CBC TECH2025 Co-Chairs Lee and Cleaver Lead Congressional Black Caucus Members in Expressing Concerns over Widespread Tech Layoffs Disproportionately Impacting Black Americans

Washington, DCCBC TECH2025 Co-Chairs Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), along with CBC Future of Work Taskforce Co-Chairs Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At Large District) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su to request information in response to recent reports highlighting the impacts of widespread layoffs within the tech industry and its disproportionate impacts on the African American community and women.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 240,000 tech workers in the US have been laid off representing a more than 50% increase over 2022. Recent findings have consistently shown that minorities and women are vastly overrepresented in industry layoffs. Increasing diversity in tech and creating a space for the Black community in this industry has been a cornerstone element of the work done by the CBC.

In addition, some tech companies have received complaints regarding violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, a law designed to hold employers accountable and give workers and communities notice they need to prepare for, and recover from, employer decisions that cost them their jobs. Violations of the WARN Act deny workers the time to make appropriate arrangements for a new job, and to obtain skills training or retraining needed to successfully stay and compete in the job market.  

Representatives Lee and Cleaver co-chair CBCTECH2025, an initiative created by the Congressional Black Caucus to bring together the best minds in the tech, non-profit, education and public sectors to chart a path forward to increase African American inclusion at all levels of the technology industry. Through CBC tech initiatives, starting with TECH2020 and continuing with TECH2025, the CBC has highlighted the drastic lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in tech.

The lawmakers requested that Acting Secretary Su respond to the following questions:

1. Under what authorities is the Department of Labor currently monitoring tech industry layoff trends that may merit further investigation due to the disproportionate adverse impacts on African Americans and workers of color? What related enforcement actions is the Department taking?

2. Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, covered employees are entitled to notification 60 days in advance of mass layoffs among other protections. In what ways can the Department of Labor use its authorities to work with States to improve WARN Act tracking, reporting and enforcement?

3. What does aggregate WARN Act data currently tell the Department of Labor about the characteristics of workers affected by mass tech layoffs?

4. What is the Department of Labor doing to regulatorily disincentivize questionable business practices that disproportionately harm African American workers, such as discouraging the “last in, first out” approach?

5. What additional actions is the Department of Labor considering to further encourage tech companies to audit their hiring, performance, promotion, and compensation practices to ensure equity?

6. Can the Department of Labor, in collaboration with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, share a current breakdown of current gender, racial, and ethnic demographics in the tech industry disaggregated by job category and leadership role?

7. How is the Department of Labor working with the tech industry to address the substantial harm of recent mass layoffs and prevent future damage mass layoffs may have on diversity, equity and inclusion progress in the workplace?

8. What steps has the Department of Labor taken to ensure that Supreme Court rulings in SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. University of North Carolina are not misinterpreted or misrepresented to arbitrarily undermine corporate DEI practices and budgets?

To read the full letter, click here.