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Target sued by investor after anti-LGBTQIA+ customer backlash

Target sued by investor after anti-LGBTQIA+ customer backlash

Rhys Everquill
Rhys Everquill
TLDR: Conservative legal organisation America First Legal (AFL) has initiated legal action against retail giant Target, setting the stage for a legal battle that could have far-reaching implications for the intersection of business, diversity and social issues.

The lawsuit, filed by AFL on behalf of investor Brian Craig, alleges that Target misled shareholders regarding its ability to manage potential risks associated with its Pride merchandise - Reuters

The merchandise in question, part of Target's Pride 2023 collection, included items like “tuck-friendly” swimsuits, rainbow-themed accessories, and slogan T-shirts - CNN

Why are they being sued?

The controversy erupted after right-wing campaigners and anti-LGBTQIA+ extremists protested the collection's release, resulting in allegations of ‘grooming’ by some customers - LGBTQNation

Craig, who holds 216 Target shares valued at approximately $29 000 (£22 700), claimed the company’s board was not paying sufficient attention to social, political, and environmental risks while focusing solely on the company’s ESG, diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives - The Advocate

Craig said the board “misrepresented its oversight because it monitored only one side.”

This, according to the lawsuit, has not only caused reputational damage but also contributed to a decline in Target's share price.

In response to the backlash, Target made the decision in June to remove some Pride items from its stores and alter the merchandise's visibility, in a blow to the LGBTQIA+ community.

What about the designers?

Erik C, a queer artist commissioned to create designs for the Pride collection, commented on the situation: “I think it was anticipated that there would be pushback, I don’t think anybody anticipated that it would be quite this extreme” - PinkNews

According to the artist, his work got “review bombed by conservatives giving it one-star reviews”.

Is this happening elsewhere in the US?

In recent years, US conservatives have become increasingly critical of businesses that support the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.

Governor Ron DeSantis is waiting to pop the top on legal action against Bud Light. He’s riled up because Bud Light worked on a social media campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Conservative elements of its customer base then boycotted the brand, leading to a dip in revenue - Independent

Analysis: This could have far-reaching impact on companies in the US

Some analysis suggests that the outcome of this case could set a precedent for how companies handle public perception, customer feedback, and taking a stand on social issues - Bloomberg Law

With both sides ardently standing their ground, this legal saga is poised to offer insight into the evolving landscape of corporate responsibility and activism.

As the court proceedings unfold, all eyes will be on Target. We’ll wait to see if this legal dispute will ultimately redefine the boundaries between business and social advocacy.

he/They bi, polyamorous, man  Rhys Everquill Journalist, writer and media consultant QueerAF is funding my queer media career. Will you join our movement? AF Queer

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