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Black Girls Code Files Lawsuit Against Ousted Founder Over Alleged Website “Hijacking” – TechCrunch


black girls code filed a complaint on Monday against its founder Kimberly Bryantwho was ousted as a board member and chief executive earlier this month, “hijacked” the nonprofit’s website.

The core of the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, concerns control of the Black Girls Code website. The complaint alleges that Bryant “took a series of improper actions after his termination, including unlawfully hijacking BGC’s website and redirecting site visitors to his own website, which makes several false and misleading statements.” .

The lawsuit is the latest in an escalating legal and business battle between Bryant, who created the nonprofit in 2011 to diversify the coding landscape, and the board of directors she appointed. Bryant filed his own federal lawsuit Aug. 11, alleging wrongful suspension and a conflict of interest by board member Heather Hiles.

In that lawsuit, filed Monday, BGC alleges that its domains — including blackgirlscode.com, blackgirlscode.org, blackgirlscode.site and blackgirlscode.net — all redirect to saveblackgirlscode.com at the time of publication. This website offers a memo with details of Bryant’s aforementioned federal lawsuit, including contact information for his attorney.

Bryant declined to comment on the new set of allegations when contacted for comment.

The issues first surfaced in December 2021 when Bryant said she was denied access to her email, which she eventually learned was the result of an indefinite suspension from the association. not-for-profit by its board of directors. At the time, the board told TechCrunch that Bryant had been placed on paid administrative leave to investigate complaints against her.

The board’s allegations — bolstered by multiple interviews TechCrunch conducted with former BGC employees — included Bryant abusing a staff member and creating a toxic work environment. Bryant has denied those allegations. The board told TechCrunch in December that it would form a special committee to investigate the aforementioned allegations, but declined to provide a specific timeline.

Bryant would lose his job eight months later.

Black Girls Code terminated Bryant on August 12. Bryant tweeted in response, saying she was “wrongly removed” and “without cause or opportunity to participate in a vote on these actions.”

A few days later, she tweeted that she had not been offered any severance pay, medical assistance or vacation pay, the latter to which she is entitled under law in California, where BGC is based.

“Does this sound like retaliation? » she tweeted regarding the lack of severance pay. A Black Girls Code spokesperson said Bryant received his accrued vacation in accordance with California law, but declined to comment on his severance pay and medical assistance claims.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch last week, a spokesperson for Black Girls Code said the group “believes the decision to remove Ms. Bryant as CEO and as a board member is in the best interest of the organization, the girls it serves, its employees, and its donors. BGC has focused its efforts on advancing and expanding the success of the organization since its inception.” sent a newly filed complaint earlier today.

TechCrunch was unable to access the Black Girls Code website last week when the nonprofit tweeted that his website was down. The complaint offers a different angle on the matter: “Since being placed on paid leave in December, Bryant has sought to harm BGC by refusing (among other things) to relinquish control of BGC’s property and assets, including including administrative credentials on the BGC website, claiming and treating them as its own despite clear organizational ownership.

The nonprofit says Bryant’s conduct violates federal and state laws and “has caused irreparable harm to the operation and mission of BGC in the community.” The alleged takeover wouldn’t be entirely unusual: Marceau Michel, the founder of Black Founders Matter, cut off his colleagues at the company from accessing the website when he was asked to resign. The team eventually created new emails, designed a new website, and rebranded a whole new fund.

In the complaint, BGC claims the website was run and controlled by the nonprofit, but alleges that Bryant used his daughter’s email account when the website was first created in 2011. “Such a control gives the individual or individuals the ability to modify, delete or otherwise modify the content, operation or existence of the website,” the lawsuit states.

Black Girls Code’s complaint says the association is “taking steps to re-establish its web presence” and is using its Twitter account for correspondence in the meantime. The nonprofit says it has served more girls this summer than in previous years and “has never been in a stronger position”.

In the lawsuit, BGC demanded a jury trial. A BGC spokesperson declined to provide further comment.



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