Adidas' investors have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that they failed to properly address the behavior of Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.
West has come under fire in the past year for making several anti-Semitic comments, including spouting conspiracy theories and threatening to go "death con 3" on Jewish people. In late October last year, Adidas officially ended business with the musician, ceasing production on his Yeezy brand, losing a reported $1.3 billion.
Shortly after ending their partnership with West, the company launched an investigation into allegations that he had bullied employees and forced them to watch pornography.
“It is currently not clear whether the accusations made in an anonymous letter are true,” Adidas said at the time. “However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations.”
West's anti-Semitic comments have since been directly linked to several hate crimes, with over 30 incidents of vandalism, harassment, and propaganda stated to be inspired by him.
Filed Friday in Oregon, the lawsuit from the company's investors claims that the brand “routinely ignored extreme behavior” and only addressed the controversies “after weeks of criticism over its failure."
In 2018, after West called slavery a "choice," investors allege that the company refused to take action, and that they were told by Adidas there “are some comments we don’t support [but] Kanye has been and is a very important part of our strategy and has been a fantastic creator.”
At the time, investors say Adidas "ignored serious issues" with the partnership, only "generally alluding" to the risks "rather than stating that the company had actually considered ending the partnership as a result of West’s personal behavior."
In a statement to USA Today, Adidas called the claims "unfounded," with spokesperson Claudia Lange saying that they "outright reject these unfounded claims and will take all necessary measures to vigorously defend ourselves against them."