Jay-Z arbitration dispute temporarily halted after rapper wins injunction over discrimination
Rapper Jay-Z won a court battle in his trademark dispute with Iconix Brand Group Inc. on Wednesday after a court temporarily halted his arbitration proceedings over the lack of African-American arbitrators.
The rapper argued that the lack of racial diversity among eligible arbitrators at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) who could rule on his case was unfair discrimination, The New York Times reported.
A judge in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan imposed an injunction on the arbitration until a hearing on Dec. 11. This temporarily halts the proceedings.
Jay-Z and the brand were supposed to each pick four arbitrators from AAA’s “Large and Complex Cases” database, including the four supplied from the association, and narrow down the list together until both sides agreed.
But the rapper argued in his court petition obtained by the Times that he was “confronted with a stark reality” while he was looking at the list — he could not identify a single African-American arbitrator.
The AAA has only three potential African-American arbitrators — two men and one woman — that could hear the case, but one was already involved with Iconix in related litigation.
“It would stand to reason that prospective litigants — which undoubtedly include minority owned and operated businesses — expect there to be the possibility that the person who stands in the shoes of both judge and jury reflects the diverse population,” the music star’s petition said.
Jay-Z, whose legal name is Shawn Carter, claims the lack of diversity is discrimination under the New York state constitution and New York City human rights law.
The AAA declined to comment to the Times.
The rapper is locked in a legal battle with the clothing brand after he sold his Rocawear line to the company for $204 million in 2007, Reuters reported.
Iconix sued Jay-Z in federal court after he began selling New Era baseball caps with a paper airplane logo from his new company, Roc Nation, which the company said violated the Rocawear sales agreement.
After Jay-Z countersued, the two parties entered arbitration.