FILE PHOTO: A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co said that its diversity initiatives comply with federal employment laws after it received a letter from the U.S. Labor Department questioning whether the steps were unlawful or discriminatory.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported on Thursday that the Labor Department is probing companies with federal contracts which have specific goals to increase diversity.

The department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has sent a letter to Wells Fargo, a company spokesman said late on Thursday.

“Wells Fargo is committed to and taking action to become a more diverse and inclusive company. Numerous efforts are underway to implement changes at all levels of the company, and we are confident that they comply with U.S. employment laws”, the spokesman said.

Microsoft Corp received a similar letter last week. It responded on Tuesday by denying the department’s suggestion that its plan to bolster diversity, including by investing $150 million and doubling the number of Black employees in high-ranking positions, amounted to illegal race discrimination..

The death of African-American George Floyd in May, after a white police officer knelt on his neck, fueled protests across the United States, prompting companies to confront the issue of inequality.

Late last month, Trump issued an executive order that he said would ban the military, government contractors and federal grantees from some diversity training.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Labor Department said it will send letters to federal contractors if it felt a probe was needed to confirm companies were not using race- or sex-based hiring preferences or quotas.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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