The Inbox - The Ways of the “Wolf”

| O'Neill, Ashley

Benjamin Wey immigrated to Oklahoma from China as a teenager with scant dollars in his pocket.  He parlayed ambition and ties to Chinese businesses into a lucrative investment firm engaged in the controversial practice of reverse mergers. According to the Washington Post, this so-called “Wolf of Wall Street” hired a beautiful Swedish model, Hanna Bouveng, to serve as his assistant, and used her Swedish contacts to further his business interests while heaping monetary rewards on her to seemingly win her affections.  According to Bouveng, Wey pressured her into a sexual relationship, and when she refused his advances, he allegedly terminated her employment, waged war on her reputation through social media, stalked her, and threatened her with further ruin. Ms. Bouveng fought back in Manhattan federal court where she sued Wey for sexual harassment, retaliation and defamation. The jury returned an $18 million verdict in favor of Ms. Bouveng. While Ms. Bouveng likely feels vindicated, Wey is claiming victory on his twitter account.  

In the competitive world of sports and athletic gear, one’s answer to this question can say a great deal about a person: Are you Swoosh or Three Stripes? Nike and Adidas command the lion’s share of the athletic apparel market, often trading places as the industry front runner. When sponsorships and endorsements are on the line, the next big design evolution in footwear can translate to billions in profits. Understandably, the companies have great interest in protecting their trade secrets by enforcing non-competes. According to Law360, Nike moved last December to enforce the non-compete agreements of three former designers and alleged that the designers induced Adidas to hire them by offering up Nike’s confidential design plans and strategy.  The three designers - Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner - vehemently denied the claims, asserting that they left the swoosh titan because of its “culture of distrust and intimidation.”  Now, it seems Nike and the designers have reached a confidential settlement, and the three designing men can focus on their new allegiance to the stripes. 

Some of those record-keeping, copy-making, highly-educated coffee gofers that many businesses like to call “the interns” just got their recompense in New York federal court.  Plaintiffs Justin Henry and Kyle Grant launched a putative class and collective action against Warner Music Group Corp., claiming that they were unlawfully denied minimum wage while they worked excessive hours, with little or no supervision, and often without receiving proper academic credit. According to Law 360, Warner Music has struck a deal to pay $4.2 million to settle their claims. Settlements were recently reached in similar lawsuits filed against NBCUniversal Inc. and Viacom Inc. Another class of interns in a case against Fox Entertainment Group will have to go back to the drawing board, however, because this morning, the Second Circuit vacated class certification in their cases.