Attorneys from Renne Public Law Group and Bottini & Bottini, Inc. filed a shareholder derivative lawsuit against the Board of Directors of Oracle Corporation on July 2, 2020 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claims Oracle Corporation’s (NYSE:ORCL) failure to build a diverse board has cost shareholders millions in stock value, legal costs, and damage to the company brand.
The case, Klein v. Ellison et al., (Case No. 20-CV-04439) is a shareholder derivative action that seeks compensation and major changes in Oracle’s board, management, and business practices, including removal of Larry Ellison as the company’s board chairman. The suit also documents how Oracle’s 14-member board has repeatedly misled shareholders, the investment community, and company employees on the subjects of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
A 2019 regulatory filing by Oracle says, “Diversity and inclusion in our workforce starts at the top.”
“Oracle’s board today in 2020 has no African‐Americans and no Latinos, and no Asian‐American or other minority representatives aside from Vishal Sikka. The company’s executive ranks also lack a single Black person,” said RPLG Partner Ruth Bond, who is an attorney for plaintiff R. Andre Klein.
The suit seeks the resignation of three members of Oracle’s Board prior to the Company’s annual meeting in November 2020 and to have such members replaced by two Black individuals and one other minority. The suit also seeks to have Larry Ellison replaced as Chairman of the Board, to require Oracle to publish an annual Diversity Report, require annual training of directors and to create a $700 million fund to hire Black individuals and other minorities and provide minorities to more management positions at the company.
RPLG and Bottini & Bottini partnered on a high-profile shareholder derivative lawsuit against Alphabet, parent company of Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), claiming that company’s failure to combat sexual harassment cost shareholders over $135 million in severance payments to Andy Rubin and Amit Singhal, both of whom had been accused of sexual harassment at Google.
“What is crystal clear is that Oracle has no real commitment to diversity and that its board is turning a blind eye to the company’s miserable failure to ensure the ‘diversity’ trumpeted by the directors in Oracle’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and its annual reports to shareholders,” Ms. Bond said.
The suit points to two Congressional inquiries into the composition of Oracle’s board. In one, a letter last year from the House Tech Accountability Caucus said, “The fact that African Americans make up 13% and Asian Americans make up 5.6% of the U.S. population but zero percent of Oracle’s board and leadership team is inexcusable.”
Ms. Bond also noted that Oracle is also being sued by the Trump Administration’s Department of Labor, which said last year that the company systematically favored Asians in hiring, and paid women, Blacks and Asians less, with pay disparities costing workers more than $400 million in lost wages over a four-year period.
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