diversity and inclusion

In the second dismissal motion ruling in one of the many board diversity lawsuits filed in recent months, a magistrate judge has granted the defendants’ dismissal motion in the suit against the board of clothing retailer The Gap. This latest ruling follows the dismissal motion grant last month in the similar lawsuit against Facebook’s board. As discussed below, the court’s dismissal of the case against The Gap’s board was based on the forum selection clause in the company’s bylaws. Northern District of California Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim’s April 27, 2021 ruling in the case can be found here.
Continue Reading Board Diversity Lawsuit Against The Gap Dismissed Based on Forum Clause

Sarah Abrams, Esq.

The pandemic’s disruption has had divergent effects on different population segments. In the following guest post Sarah Abrams, Esq., Director, Management Liability Markel, takes a look at the implication of this divergent population impact upon organizations’ diversity and inclusion efforts. The viewpoints expressed in the article are the authors alone and that not that of Markel. I would like to thank Sarah for allowing me to publish her article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Achieving Organizational Diversity in the Wake of the Pandemic

As I have documented on this site, over the last few months plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed a series of lawsuits against the directors of companies that allegedly lack African American representatives on their corporate boards. Many of these lawsuits, particularly at the outset of this litigation filing trend, were filed by the same law firm. Among the first of these lawsuits was a shareholder derivative lawsuit filed in July 2020 against the board of the social media company, Facebook. In an order dated March 19, 2021 (here), Northern District of California Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The dismissal was without prejudice with respect to the plaintiff’s proxy misrepresentation claims under Section 14(a). As discussed below, the court’s ruling could have important implications for the other pending (and prospective future) board diversity lawsuits.
Continue Reading Facebook Board Diversity Lawsuit Dismissal Motion Granted

Regular readers will recall that last summer and fall there was a series of lawsuits filed against the directors of several publicly traded companies that had no African Americans on their boards. For a time, it seemed as if this litigation outbreak had subsided, as no further lawsuits were filed after the end of September. However, the impression that this phenomenon had played itself out was dispelled in February, when a plaintiff shareholder filed yet another board diversity lawsuit against the directors of Micron Technology. Now, in the latest sign that the board diversity litigation movement may have even further to run, on March 5, 2020, a plaintiff shareholder filed yet another board diversity lawsuit, this time against Florida-based healthcare company, OPKO Health, Inc. The lawsuit against OPKO Health’s board can be found here.
Continue Reading OPKO Health Hit with Board Diversity Lawsuit

Last summer and early fall there was a rash of shareholder derivative lawsuits – mostly filed in California, mostly filed against tech companies – based on allegations that the target companies’ boards had breached their duties by failing to include African American board members. The filings of these kinds of lawsuits trickled off after the California legislature adopted a bill requiring companies based in California to meet specified board diversity requirements. However, if a recent lawsuit filied is any indication, the board diversity lawsuit filing trend may not have entirely played out after all.

On February 9, 2021, a plaintiff shareholder launched a new board diversity lawsuit, this time against the board of Micron Technology. As discussed below, this most recent lawsuit is different than the earlier lawsuits in certain key ways. A copy of the complaint against the Micron Technology board can be found here.
Continue Reading Micron Technology Hit with Board Diversity Law Suit

In a derivative lawsuit settlement with one of the highest nominal dollar values ever – and in what is one of the largest #MeToo-related D&O lawsuit settlement ever – Google parent Alphabet has agreed to establish a $310 million diversity, equity, and inclusion fund as part of the settlement of the consolidated derivative litigation relating to the company’s alleged mishandling of sexual harassment allegations against senior executives and the company’s alleged overall culture of sexual discrimination and harassment. The company also agreed to adopt extensive reforms to its employment policies and to implement a number of governance reform measures as part of the settlement. The settlement is subject to court approval.
Continue Reading Alphabet Establishes $310 Million Fund in Google Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Settlement

California-based high technology firm Cisco Systems is the latest company to be hit with a racial diversity lawsuit, based on allegations that its directors breached their fiduciary duties to the company by failing to include an African-American on the company’s board, despite the company’s numerous statements about its commitment to diversity. Though this latest lawsuit is in many respects similar to the previously filed board diversity lawsuits, it does differ in that it was not filed by the plaintiffs’ firm that has filed most of these lawsuits and also because the lawsuit follows a pre-suit demand on Cisco’s board, by contrast to most of the prior suits where the plaintiffs had made no demand and instead argued demand futility. A copy of the complaint in the Cisco Systems action can be found here.
Continue Reading Cisco Systems Hit With Board Diversity Lawsuit

One of the focal points in the scrutiny that has followed in the wake of the current social justice movement has been the question of diversity at America’s companies, including the lack of diversity on corporate boards. Among other things, a number of boards of public companies lacking Black directors have been sued in a series of shareholders derivative lawsuits alleging that the board members violated their fiduciary duties by failing to live up to state diversity objectives, as discussed most recently. Now, in the latest example of this type of litigation, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a derivative lawsuit against the board of Monster Beverage Corporation, alleging that the directors breached their fiduciary duties and deceived investors by claiming to have diversity and inclusion programs while have no Black directors on the board. A copy of the complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Monster Beverage Hit With Latest Board Diversity Lawsuit

The current racial justice movement has created an environment in which corporations and other organizations are under pressure to reconsider and address their diversity and inclusion practices. Organizations that lack racial diversity in their corporate leadership – particularly on their boards of directors – have come in for increasing criticism and, as I have noted on this blog (most recently here), the possibility of board diversity litigation. In addition, beyond the scrutiny and litigation, the California legislature has passed a bill that would require publicly traded companies in the state to have at least one director from a minority community by the close of 2021.

It now appears that as a result of both the scrutiny, the legislation, and perhaps even because of the litigation threat, a number of companies have proactively taken steps to address these issues by pleading to add a Black director to their boards within a year.
Continue Reading Growing Number of Companies Pledge to Address Board Diversity Issues

In yesterday’s post, I noted that earlier this week, a plaintiff shareholder had filed a board diversity lawsuit against the Gap. Turns out, that the same day yet another company was also hit with a board diversity shareholder derivative lawsuit, this time involving the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of the medical and industrial product company Danaher Corporation. The Danaher lawsuit is in many ways substantially similar to the prior lawsuits that have been filed against companies that have no African-Americans on their boards of directors; however, the Danaher lawsuit is the first filed against a company outside California (Danaher is based in the District of Columbia), and it was filed by a different law firm than the one that had filed all of the prior board diversity suits. The complaint in the Danaher action can be found here.
Continue Reading Yet Another Board Diversity Derivative Lawsuit, This Time Against Danaher’s Board