The founders of Silicon Valley startup UploadVR landed on Forbes’ coveted 30 under 30 list this year. And now, they’ve reached another tech world milestone—being sued for rampant sexual harassment. The details of the lawsuit describe a company that seems to have looked at other startup’s workplace environments and…
Before March 28 of this year, something exciting and potentially world-changing (in a good way) was playing out in Pennsylvania. Seven young plaintiffs, including 17-year-old Rekha Dhillon-Richardson, were suing their state, arguing that the government had failed to protect their constitutional rights by refusing to adequately and immediately combat climate change. Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees "the right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment." This groundbreaking case, which requested strict reduction and regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions in order to ensure a habitable planet for young people and future generations, made its way through the legal system until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court's ruling in the state's favor.
Even though they lost, Dhillon-Richardson and her allies made important ethical and legal arguments on the public stage. As many of us adjust to a presidential administration that denies the reality of climate change and scoffs at basic science, I talked to Dhillon-Richardson about what we can learn from this case and its creative pursuit of state-based avenues for progressive action.
VICE: Why did you get involved in this case?
Rekha Dhillon-Richardson: Because I believe that it is absolutely crucial that youth are central players in developing local and national strategies to fight environmental degradation. The fundamental human rights and futures of children and youth are disproportionately threatened by climate destabilization, even though we have had little to do with the production of the problem.
What have you learned being part of this process?
It's taught me how to be a more effective advocate for the things that I believe in and to use whatever avenues necessary to seek change and bring about justice. I have also learned that the court process is extremely slow; it is hard to make quick and significant changes through the courts. Those of us deeply concerned about issues of environmental injustice would be wise to explore multiple strategies to challenge the government.
Pennsylvania's environmental constitutional rights are pretty impressive. What do you think about the fact that we have rights on the books that aren't implemented?
Although Pennsylvania has extensive environmental constitutional protections, it is shameful and shortsighted that they are not being put into practice. I am encouraged by our government's consideration of the right to clean air, water, and natural resources—these are rights that everyone should have. However, it is very disappointing that Pennsylvania is failing to do the work to actually ensure that these rights are upheld. This case made me realize that just because a law is created in theory does not mean that it is applied in reality.
Has the new administration changed how you think about the case and what needs to be done to protect the environment?
The people Trump has chosen for his Cabinet are dangerous and are now in a position of authority. With this new administration that threatens the environmental movement, it is imperative that we continue to take immediate and significant action—protests, public education, youth organizing, and challenges in the court are all part of this resistance.
Are there things young people see about the future that older people don't?
My generation is ready and willing to fight for our human rights and for the rights of our earth. There are amazing kids all around the world who are standing up to environmental degradation and who live with the consequences of the decisions around extractive industries that are made in places like the United States. The natural world that my generation and the future generations will inherit is going to be very different than the one that older people have enjoyed. I think young people have the ability to imagine a better world—to have a vision for the longer term.
Do you think previous generations have let people your age down?
I do think we have been let down. Children across the globe have trusted the adults to make the right decisions—to lead us forward into a cleaner and more just future for everyone. We have been harmed by decisions that were made without our authorization.
What are your plans for the future? Has being part of this case shaped what you want to do later on?
I plan to become an environmental scientist—I start college this fall—and continue my advocacy work for climate justice, with a focus on areas in the world that are disproportionately impacted. Being part of this case has confirmed that young people are needed more than ever. Consequently, I also plan to continue to create platforms for young people to become leaders alongside me.
Travis Kalanick’s “brother from another mother,” Anthony Levandowski, has officially stepped down from leading Uber’s self-driving car division. Levandowski is a key player in a lawsuit filed by his former employer, Google, that claims he stole tech that Uber is incorporating into its cars. This isn’t a minor legal…
A letter drafted by former Fox News Network employees suing their past employer alleges that black employees were forced to arm wrestle their white co-workers.
The seven former employees behind the letter are set to join a lawsuit that alleges "top-down racial harassment" is prominent behind the scenes at the popular news network.
The initial suit was filed by Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright in March and focuses on reported "top-down racial harassment." It is leveled primarily against Fox News comptroller, Judith Slater, and alleges racial discrimination and harassment against Brown, Wright and other marginalized employees.
None of these claims have been proven in court.
The letter, obtained by New York Magazine and initially sent to the network's lawyers, paints the picture of a dysfunctional and toxic work environment. The letter makes the claim that Slater demanded her black employees hold arm wrestling matches with white employees.
"Forcing a black woman employee to 'fight' for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals," the letter reads, according to the New York article.
The lawsuit alleges that Slater also stated that all black men were "women beaters," that they wanted to hurt white people, and mocked the speech patterns of black employees. Slater's employment was terminated from Fox News after the allegations were raised. The lawsuit also extends to other employees who are also alleged to have engaged in the behaviour and allowed it to continue.
In a statement at the time of Slater's firing, the network stated that, "there is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News."
The allegations come at a time where a magnifying glass is being placed on the work culture of the news network, after several high profile employees made disgraced exits.
Recently the network's shining star, Bill O'Reilly, was canned after reports emerged that he had settled numerous lawsuits that allege sexual harassment—action was taken after a large contingent of advertisers pulled their work from O'Reilly's show. Prior to that, long-time head of the network, Roger Ailes, took leave among accusations of sexual harassment.
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For what seems like the millionth time, Yahoo’s miserable descent into nothingness has somehow gotten worse. Today, a group of previously imprisoned Chinese dissidents filed a lawsuit against the company for misappropriating more than $17 million put in a trust fund meant to aid Chinese political prisoners.
The Conjuring series has been haunted by lawsuits for years, and the stakes are only getting higher. Author Gerald Brittle is now seeking $900 million in damages over claims producers lifted from his work about two real life paranormal investigators. His ace in the hole? Recognizing the pair probably made it up.
Last month Google filed a lawsuit against Uber alleging that the ridesharing company colluded with a former Google engineer to steal trade secrets and proprietary designs from the Waymo self-driving car unit. Today, Uber’s lawyers filed a motion to move the case into the dark hole of arbitration.
President Trump and his lawyer are hoping to block a lawsuit from former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos by arguing that the Constitution protects sitting presidents from facing state lawsuits, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
After accusing Trump of sexual assault during the campaign, the season five Apprentice cast member filed a defamation lawsuit against him in January after he denied he had "met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately" and called his accusers "liars." Zervos's suit essentially put the president in a position to either admit her story was true and apologize, or try to prove she lied about her account in court.
Now Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is trying to make sure the case doesn't make it to court. According to the Reporter, Kasowitz plans to file a motion to block the lawsuit under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. He argues that that clause prevents a sitting president from facing litigation in a state court, an issue he says was "raised, but not decided,by the US Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones."
In that 1997 Supreme Court case—regarding the sexual harassment allegations brought by Paula Jones against former president Bill Clinton—Clinton's lawyers tried to argue that any lawsuits brought against the president should be dealt with after his term was up. Justice John Paul Stevens decided, however, that the president could still face private litigation while in office, though questions regarding the president's immunity in those lawsuits should be decided as early as possible. That way, the president could focus on running the country.
Apparently Kasowitz is banking on that ruling to try to block Zervos's suit. But Zervos's lawyer, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, told the Reporter she has a different interpretation of the ruling.
"[It] determined unanimously that no man is above the law and that includes the President of the United States," Allred said. "We look forward to arguing this issue in court."
This week in celebrity feuds, Coachella is suing the retailer Urban Outfitters and its subsidiary, Free People, for using the festival's trademarked name to sell their hippie-inflected clothing lines. In a complaint filed in a US District Court, Coachella alleges that the retailers are "trading on the goodwill and fame" of the festival.
After noting extensively how great their music show in the desert is—"An Internet search using the Google search engine for the term 'Coachella music festival' provided over 1 million hits," the lawsuit boasts—Coachella's lawsuit takes issue with Urban Outfitter's marketing tactics. Free People, according to the complaint, sells a lacy shirt called "Coachella Valley Tunic," among other items using the Coachella name.
"Coachella is about more than just music," the lawsuit goes on to allege. In the past few years, the festival has also started licensing its name to clothing and jewelry retailers like H&M and Pandora. Urban Outfitter's marketing, the complaint says, is likely to cause "dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment" of the Coachella brand. This would be a shame, since "the Coachella Marks have for many years enjoyed unquestionable fame as a result of the favorable general public acceptance and recognition," the lawsuit states.
Other than the risk to the quality of their brand, Coachella doesn't like that Urban Outfitters and Free People are trying to sell to the same people they're trying to sell to. "Defendants' apparel is directly targeting the same consumers who purchase Plaintiffs' goods and/or its licensees and sponsors' goods," the suit states. It also accuses the company of wrongly using the word "Coachella" in its website metatags to filter search results for festival wear.
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On Tuesday March 14th, a group of former and inactive Mormons—who have leaked dozens of internal documents exposing the inner workings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—sent a legal letter to the LDS Church warning that MormonLeaks has no intention of ending their crusade for transparency.