Jay-Z Earns Diversity Commitment from American Arbitration Association
Jay-Z has withdrawn his request to halt an arbitration with Iconix Brand Group due to the lack of diversity amongst the arbitrators at the American Arbitration Association. On Sunday (Dec. 9), The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the Roc Nation CEO's lawyer told a New York judge that the AAA has decided to make a commitment to provide more diversity with its list of arbitrators.
"While the information AAA provided has confirmed that AAA lacks an appreciable number of minority (and particularly, African-American) arbitrators," Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan litigator Alex Spiro said in the letter. "AAA has indicated an openness both to an arbitrator selection process in this Arbitration that will allow for meaningful consideration of African-American arbitrators and to broader remedial measures intended to improve the diversity of the arbitrator roster for future arbitrations."
Back in May, Iconix Brand Group filed a $204 million dollar lawsuit against Hov and Roc Nation for using their logo on Major League Baseball merchandise. During the course of the arbitration, the plaintiffs had been given a deadline of Nov. 30 to choose an arbitrator for the case. However, the list of 200 potential arbitrators they've been given had zero African Americans or other people of color. Jay-Z's legal team motioned to halt the case until a more diverse list was produced.
Although the motion was granted, it seems as though the request was fulfilled due to the absence of the assigned judge rather than the merits of their argument that an arbitration process without African-Americans violated New York's public policy on discrimination. Despite Iconix's claim that the motion was a "charade," it appears that Jay-Z and his legal team got their wish.
"Contrary to the Carter Parties' tale of 'token' representation, the current 'Strike List' of AAA-presented arbitrators is composed of 25% (3 of 12) African-American candidates, selected from a National Roster consisting of at least 150 African-American arbitrators and the Carter Parties voluntarily waived participation in nominating any additional candidates by ignoring AAA deadlines and self-imposing arbitrary standards of 'qualification,'" wrote Iconix attorney Samuel Levy at Blank Rome.
A judge accepted the withdrawal and has set a status hearing for March 2019.
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