Prof. Green’s Scholarship Cited in Jay-Z’s Challenge to Arbitration Article

December 18, 2018

Hip hop artist Jay-Z grabbed headlines recently when he won a temporary stay in a major commercial arbitration involving his company Roc Nation and the clothing company Iconix. Jay-Z objected to the arbitration and sought the stay based on his concern that the American Arbitration Association (AAA) was offering an insufficient number of African-Americans to serve as potential arbitrators. A subsequent news report cited to Professor Michael Z. Green’s essay, "Challenging the Racially Biased Selection of Arbitrators for Employment Discrimination Suits," published in 2005 in the Journal of American Arbitration as support for the need for a more diverse pool of dispute resolution neutrals.

In his essay, Professor Green wrote:  “Because race still matters significantly in our society, when arbitration agreements coerce black employees into a private dispute resolution system where employers may apply racial stereotypes with little regulation, it raises concern about the integrity of that system.”

Professor Green added:  “The lack of diversity in the arbitrator pool may cause black employees to not pursue their discrimination claims out of a feeling that it would be futile in such a questionable system.”

At Texas A&M Law’s November 16 Dispute Resolution Symposium, Professor Green returned to this issue as he moderated a panel considering whether the use of metrics and transparency could promote parties’ selection of diverse neutrals.

Jay-Z has since withdrawn his motion to stay the arbitration. On December 9, his lawyers informed the New York Supreme Court that the AAA had committed to work with them “to identify and make available African-American arbitrators for consideration” and engage in broader remedial measures. The AAA had previously filed with the Court a letter detailing the initiatives it has undertaken over the years to mentor diverse arbitrators, expand its arbitrator panel, and encourage the selection of diverse arbitrators. More information, including the letter from Jay-Z’s lawyers, is available in this article.