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10 - Commentary on White v. Panic

from Part IV - Fiduciary Duties in Corporate Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2023

Anne M. Choike
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
Usha R. Rodrigues
Affiliation:
University of Georgia School of Law
Kelli Alces Williams
Affiliation:
Florida State University
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Summary

Following the publication of a U.S. News and World Report article about ICN’s CEO, Panic, entitled “Sex and the CEO” detailing the pharmaceutical company’s expansive cover-up of workplace sexual harassment, a shareholder, White, filed suit against Panic for breaching his fiduciary duty by using corporate funds to resolve sexual harassment claims. The feminist rewrite finds that Panic and ICN’s board failed to exercise valid business judgment and did breach their fiduciary duty. The lack of diversity on ICN’s all-male boardroom is noted as a factor that led to the acceptance of Panic’s workplace sexual harassment and the allowance of corporate funds to actively conceal it. The examination refuses to sanitize the legal analysis to only rules and processes and instead chooses to analyze the case for its full revealing facts. The rewritten opinion views ICN’s board’s repeated decision to use corporate funds to settle sexual harassment cases as a proof of the fact that the board did in fact have actual knowledge of the persistent sexual harassment of its employees by Panic. Using precedent available at the time of White v. Panic, the feminist rewrite is able to come to the conclusion, which has become more common twenty years later in the post-#MeToo world.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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