In another blow for Adidas, the sportswear giant is now facing a class action lawsuit from investors claiming that it knew about Kanye West’s controversial conduct prior to cutting off its partnership with the rapper.
In the lawsuit, which was filed with a federal court in Oregon, shareholders of the brand alleged it was aware of West’s problematic behaviour years before he made the antisemitic comments that led to the demise of their relationship.
The filing further claimed that Adidas had failed to take measures to minimise financial losses if the partnership was to end.
Both West and Adidas later terminated the collaboration in October last year after the designer made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and in interviews, which included, among other things, praising Adolf Hitler.
Adidas sued by investors
While Adidas stated at the time that West’s comments were “hateful and dangerous”, the new lawsuit alleged that discussions around the risks of continuing the partnership with West were already in circulation as far back as 2018.
During this period, West had been under fire for claiming that slavery “sounds like a choice”, a comment that Adidas seemingly ignored according to the complaint.
Citing an article from the Wall Street Journal, investors further alleged of a meeting in 2018, during which time employees reportedly noted concerns surrounding West’s behaviour to senior executives, who allegedly told staff to avoid interacting with him.
In a statement to the Guardian responding to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Adidas said: “We outright reject these unfounded claims and will take all necessary measures to vigorously defend ourselves against them.”
Following the ending of their partnership, Adidas launched an independent investigation into West’s behaviour at the company after several employees came forward with allegations that the designer used uncomfortable language and created a culture of fear during his time there.
Further claims included that of West showing staff explicit images to employees, as well as nude photos of his now ex-wife Kim Kardashian.