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Jay-Z sued on Wednesday to end his private arbitration with apparel company Iconix Brand Group Inc., claiming the company's inability to find an African-American arbitrator to hear the dispute over brand names. trade was unfair.
The multimillionaire rapper said in a petition filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court that the lack of racial diversity among the arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) was discriminatory under the state constitution of New York and the human rights law of New York City.
Iconix could not be contacted immediately for a comment and a spokesperson from AAA declined to comment.
The dispute is the latest in a series of legal issues stemming from Jay-Z's 2007 sale of his Rocawear clothing brand to Iconix for approximately $ 204 million. Iconix has since canceled almost all of the brand's value and, in 2017, sued Jay-Z in Manhattan federal court for trademark rights. This case remains pending.
In 2015, Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and Iconix settled some disputes and agreed to deal with future claims in private arbitration, according to Jay-Z's petition.
Last month, Iconix accused Jay-Z of violating the 2015 bylaw and requested an AAA arbitration.
But Jay-Z said that AAA had found only three potential African-American arbitrators, out of the hundreds used, and one had already represented Iconix in a related litigation.
He argued that the absence of "more than a symbolic number of African-Americans" had nullified the arbitration contract.
"It goes without saying that the parties to a potential dispute – which undoubtedly include minority-owned and -controlled businesses – expect the person who stands in the place of the judge and jury to reflect the diversity of the population, "says the petition.
Jay-Z, 48, is famous for his songs such as "Hard Knock Life", "99 Problems" and "Big Pimpin".
The Brooklyn native won 21 Grammy Awards, most recently in 2015 for the best R & B song and the best R & B performance for "Drunk in Love" with his wife, pop star Beyonce.
In May, a federal judge ordered him to respond to a subpoena from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission related to the sale of Rocawear.
The SEC said it was considering the Iconix write-downs and wanted to ask Jay-Z about his personal involvement in the brand. (Report by Brendan Pierson in New York edited by Matthew Lewis)