Among the finest discrimination legal professionals in America works with 600 & Rising
When the name Cyrus Mehri rings, there is a good reason. The founding partner of Mehri & Skalet PLLC has negotiated some of the most well-known cases of discrimination, corporate fraud, and civil and consumer rights in America.
He was in the midst of two of the largest class actions against racial discrimination in history, taking on Texaco in 1997 and Coca-Cola in 2001, which settled for $ 176 million and $ 192.5 million, respectively. In addition, Mehri was instrumental in the NFL introducing its so-called Rooney rule, according to which the league had to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and general manager roles.
The advertising world may remember Mehri from his time on the Madison Avenue project, which highlighted the significant underrepresentation of black professionals in the advertising industry and revealed systemic problems in 2009. Mehri's company then represented several black advertising professionals on racial discrimination allegations with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In view of the new pressures on the advertising industry and especially on agencies, Mehri and his company have reached an agreement to work with advocacy group 600 & Rising.
In a statement, a spokesman for the organization said: "600 & Rising is focused on advocacy, transparency and, most importantly, policies that support black talent in advertising and public relations, with pay equity a top priority based on feedback from a recent survey of 600 & Rising. aspiring signatories. 600 & Rising will receive legal counsel from Cyrus Mehri and the Mehri & Skalet team.
Without going into details, Mehri noted that the firm "provides legal advice on a wide variety of subjects."
Several agencies and holding companies released diversity data over the summer, but according to Mehri, not much has changed since his first foray into the industry in the late 2000s.
"The data show that practically no positive changes have occurred," he said, referring to a recent study by economist Marc Bendick, which showed differences in employment and wages. “The data and the social sciences show that when companies go through the moves and check boxes, they get the same result. The only way to overcome this is for the leadership at the top to insist on significant change, accountability, and deliberate effort to create an atmosphere of equal opportunities. "
Mehri also noted that American culture and current sentiment differs from 2009 as the population vocalizes and calls for change. Regarding the advertising industry, he believes there is “an incredible moment for this industry to do the right thing and really make the change it has missed over the years,” adding that it is “dated CEO, C-, must go out. Suite and board of directors putting their footing and holding people accountable. "
According to Mehri, legal disputes are “the absolute last resort”. Instead, a number of opportunities, including policy initiatives, could pave the way for agencies to be successful.
Looking at the current position in the industry, Mehri is both pessimistic and optimistic that industry leaders can do the right thing and avoid some of the missed opportunities of the past.
"Pessimism is the success story of dodging and weaving, putting off and talking a good game without holding people accountable," said Mehri. "I'm optimistic because a tidal wave of change is coming. You will either go along with it or be forgotten. But there is probably no better moment than now."