Adidas is investigating claims Kanye West mistreated employees

Adidas is investigating claims Kanye West mistreated employees

Adidas AG is launching an investigation into allegations that rapper Ye was allowed to behave inappropriately towards employees at the German sneaker chain.

The sportswear group ended its lucrative design partnership with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, in late October after he made a series of anti-Semitic and racist remarks. Since then, allegations have continued to grow about the rapper’s erratic behavior and treatment of designers and other employees at Adidas, whose collaboration with Ye was once one of the most successful in the industry’s history.

An article in Rolling stone magazine, citing former employees speaking anonymously, detailed alleged incidents of inappropriate behavior toward workers and potential hires by Ye. According to the magazine, former Adidas employees sent an anonymous letter to the company in which they claimed that senior executives had been aware of Ye’s problematic attitude, but that they had “turned off their moral compass” and failed to protect employees.

“It is not yet clear whether the allegations in an anonymous letter are true,” an Adidas spokesperson said. “However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation into the matter immediately to address the allegations.”

You could not immediately be reached for comment. News of the investigation was first revealed by Financial Times.

Adidas is also facing questions from one of its biggest shareholders, Union Investment, which wrote to the sneaker company on Thursday asking for more information about the allegations.

“Adidas must disclose when management and the supervisory board were first informed of these internal allegations,” said Janne Werning, Union Investment’s head of capital markets and management.

The Ye controversy has hit Adidas’ revenue by up to €250 million for the year and exacerbated other problems the group was already facing. Earlier this month, Adidas appointed Bjørn Gulden, the former CEO of rival Puma SE, to take over as CEO. He starts in January and is trying to help the company recover from a series of challenges, including in China, once Adidas’ biggest engine of growth, where sales have fallen amid consumer boycotts of Western brands.

By Tim Loh and Deirdre Hipwell

Learn more:

Inside Adidas’s Yeezy dilemma

The German sportswear giant’s partnership with Ye generated $1.7 billion in 2021, accounting for nearly 7 percent of its annual revenue. Now that the company has cut ties with the rapper, will it continue to sell Yeezy designs?

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