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FutureStarrAdidas Investors Demand Accountability for Kanye West's Offensive Behavior
Adidas, the sportswear company behind Yeezy shoes, has been sued by investors alleging that executives knew about Kanye West's offensive conduct years before they cut ties with him and failed to take measures to limit financial losses from ending their partnership. The lawsuit alleges that Adidas did not implement safeguards that would limit such potential financial losses from terminating West as its partner. Adidas announced last October that they had terminated the partnership between Kanye West and Yeezy after his comments contained antisemitic overtones, leading to a 4% drop in stock price as well as reduced sales and profit forecasts over the next three years. This decision resulted in sales forecast being reduced as well. 1. Kanye West’s Anti-Semitism Adidas investors are demanding accountability for the offensive behavior of rapper formerly known as Kanye West. According to them, senior leaders at the German sportswear company knew about West's antics but chose to keep this information hidden until everything began unraveling. Ye, now known as the rapper formerly known as The Weeknd, made antisemitic comments that echo longstanding rhetoric of extremist groups such as Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam and Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) movement. Additionally, his defense that "Black people are Jews" suggests antisemitic tropes used by these organizations and other radical extremist groups. West's anti-Semitic remarks violate Adidas's Code of Conduct and values, which forbid any form of discrimination. As a result, Adidas has removed West from their platforms and announced that they no longer endorse him in any capacity. Yeezy's anti-Semitic remarks violate Jewish law. Antisemitism is illegal in America and Jews have the right to defend themselves against such behavior. According to AJC's 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report, anti-Semitic attacks continue to rise across America, becoming one of the primary drivers of religious bias offenses against Jews and one in five American Jews experiencing discrimination due to their religion. West has previously endorsed antisemitic groups such as BHI and NOI. Louis Farrakhan of BHI is well-known as an antisemite while NOI has been accused of spreading racist views that led to an attack against Jews at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey this past year. Both groups' anti-Semitic rhetoric has resulted in hate-speech graffiti across the country, including in Florida where a sign was painted with "Kill All Jews," while in Wisconsin campus walkways featured chalk messages such as "Defcon III" and a message that read: "Kanye is right". Graffitos also appeared at Orthodox synagogues according to ADL data. 2. Kanye West’s Racism Kanye West has recently come under fire for making anti-Semitic statements online, prompting several companies to terminate their relationship with him. Adidas did so after Ye made racist comments against Jews; CAA talent agency and MRC studio also announced they are shelving documentaries about Ye. Rolling Stone published an investigative report alleging that Kanye West displayed sexual photos and videos to staff at his Yeezy fashion line, according to former employees who have submitted letters accusing senior management of turning a blind eye. Former Yeezy employees reported West using vulgar language and belittling other employees, as well as making sexually suggestive comments, showing pictures of his wife Kim Kardashian during meetings, and showing them pictures on his phone in meetings. Senior executives turned a blind eye to such behavior instead of taking steps to protect workers, according to this former employee and others who spoke on condition of anonymity to Forbes magazine. One former Yeezy employee working at a sportswear company reported that West showed them and other staffers in meetings a sexually explicit movie, in addition to bullying other employees and abusing them. According to the lawsuit, senior Adidas executives knew for years about Ye (formerly Kanye West)'s questionable behavior before cutting ties in 2018. Investors were damaged financially as a result of this partnership agreement and Adidas failed to act responsibly in regards to investors' concerns. Asset management firm Union Investment, which owns a 0.76% stake in Adidas, wrote to request more details about allegations regarding problematic behavior by executives. Union asked when these allegations first surfaced and whether any actions were taken by senior leaders to address them. Union Investment has expressed deep regret at their decision to cut ties with Ye. According to them, his behavior can damage future sales as well as its reputation and would prove harmful to both. 3. Kanye West’s Sexual Harassment Adidas, the German sportswear giant, is being sued by investors alleging they knew about Kanye West's questionable behaviour long before ending their partnership. According to the complaint, Adidas failed to protect investors from financial loss and take precautionary steps to minimise exposure from Ye's unpredictable actions. Investors contend that Adidas was aware of West's offensive and racist remarks but failed to act to mitigate risks to the company, resulting in millions of euros in financial losses since cutting ties with Ye in October. Investors filed a class action lawsuit in the US against Adidas on Friday, alleging that Adidas knew about Ye's racist and offensive comments, yet failed to take measures necessary to mitigate risks to the company and avoid losses of hundreds of millions of euros as a result of Ye's erratic behaviour. Union Investments, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, sent a letter to Adidas executives urging them to investigate allegations made by Union. Adidas responded quickly and said that it took such matters very seriously and would immediately launch an investigation to ascertain their validity. Rolling Stone published an open letter this week from former Yeezy employees alleging that high-ranking Adidas representatives ignored West's "problematic" behavior - including instances of intimidation, bullying and sexual harassment. The letter includes multiple examples. Employees at Yeezy for years provided detailed accounts of West's behavior. They described how West would show explicit media to his staff members to exert control and fear; some even reported hearing West yell over the phone at them. Other former employees reported West using inappropriate language during meetings and making them feel uncomfortable about themselves. Some even described how West made them feel uneasy in their own skin. As it's often difficult to tell what's true from allegations like these, if proven accurate they could constitute sexual harassment legislation violations. Rolling Stone recently reported that West had shown explicit pictures of Kim Kardashian to Yeezy employees at the store and also used his phone to yell at women over the phone. 4. Kanye West’s Discrimination Adidas cut its ties with Kanye West due to his racist and anti-Semitic statements, as they sold his sneakers under his Yeezy brand, estimated to be worth billions. This move caused widespread outrage. Now, investors are demanding that Adidas take responsibility for Kanye West's offensive behavior as a former collaborator, alleging they had knowledge of Kanye's troubling behaviors for years but did nothing to mitigate potential financial losses due to these behaviors. According to the lawsuit, Ye would show pornographic movies during business meetings with Adidas executives - which, according to them, violated laws and caused irreparable harm to other people. West's Donda Academy in Simi Valley, California claims that some former employees experienced discrimination on account of race. Furthermore, wages were illegally withheld from them. Finally, they state that West retaliated against them when reporting code violations which they suspected occurred at their school. As a result, they have filed suit seeking $1 Million in damages, along with seeking to name Donda Academy school officials as defendants, and to issue a permanent injunction that prevents West from engaging in further discriminatory behavior. The lawsuit also alleges that Donda Academy violated state education and health and safety codes, and that teachers who were fired due to race or retaliation were fired as part of the agreement with Donda Academy. According to this suit, Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers were the only black employees employed at Donda Academy. Their lawsuit marks the latest chapter in an increasingly turbulent year for West, as his personal life and comments regarding slavery has caused disruption with Adidas, Balenciaga and Foot Locker contracts and led to dramatic decrease in wealth. As a result of West's allegations of racism and anti-semitism, his supporters have taken steps to boycott Adidas products, costing the company millions in profit as it now has unsold Yeezy items on hand.