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Black Girls Code sues evicted founder for alleged website ‘hijacking’ – londonbusinessblog.com

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Black Girls Code filed a lawsuit against the founder on Monday Kimberly Bryantwho was kicked out of her role as board member and chief executive earlier this month has “hijacked” the nonprofit’s website.

The gist 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 following her termination, including unlawfully hijacking the BGC website and redirecting site visitors to her own website, making various false and misleading statements.”

The lawsuit is the latest in an intensification of the legal and business battle between Bryant, who founded the nonprofit in 2011 to diversify the coding landscape, and the board she appointed. Bryant filed her own federal lawsuit on August 11 for wrongful suspension and conflict of interest by board member Heather Hiles.

In this lawsuit filed Monday, BGC alleges that its domains — including blackgirlscode.com, blackgirlscode.org, blackgirlscode.site, and blackgirlscode.net — all redirect to saveblackgirlscode.com as of the time of publication. That website provides a memo detailing Bryant’s aforementioned federal lawsuit, including her attorney’s contact information.

Bryant declined to comment on the new string of allegations when reached for comment.

The issues first came to light in December 2021 when Bryant said she was being denied access to her email, which she eventually learned was the result of an indefinite suspension of the nonprofit by its board. . At the time, the board told londonbusinessblog.com that Bryant had been placed on administrative paid leave to review complaints against her.

Board allegations — bolstered by multiple interviews londonbusinessblog.com conducted with former BGC employees — include that Bryant misled a staff member and created a toxic work environment. Bryant has denied these allegations. The board told londonbusinessblog.com in December that it would form a special committee to investigate the aforementioned allegations, but declined to provide a specific timeline.

Bryant would lose her job eight months later.

Black Girls Code ended Bryant on August 12. Bryant tweeted in response, stating that she had been “incorrectly removed” and “with no reason or opportunity to participate in a vote on these actions.”

Days later, she tweeted that she was not offered severance pay, medical assistance, or vacation pay, which she is legally entitled to in California, where BGC is based.

“Sound like retaliation?” she tweeted about the lack of severance pay. A Black Girls Code spokesperson said Bryant was granted her accrued vacation in accordance with California law, but declined to comment on her allegations of leave and health care.

In a statement to londonbusinessblog.com last week, a Black Girls Code spokesperson said the group “believes that the decision to remove Ms. Bryant as CEO and board member is in the best interest of the organization, the girls she serves, its employees, and its donors. BGC has focused its efforts from the beginning on progressing and expanding the success of the organization.” The same spokesperson sent a newly filed complaint earlier today.

londonbusinessblog.com was unable to access the Black Girls Code website last week when the nonprofit tweeted that the website was down. The complaint offers a different take on the matter: “Since she was put on paid leave in December, Bryant has sought to harm BGC by (among other things) refusing to relinquish control of BGC’s property and assets, including administrative credentials to BGC’s website, claiming and treating them as its property despite apparent ownership of the organization.”

The nonprofit alleges that Bryant’s conduct violates federal and state laws and “has irreparably damaged 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 regular colleagues’ access to the website when he was told to resign. The team eventually created new emails, designed a new website and changed the name to an entirely new fund.

In the complaint, BGC says the website was operated and controlled by the nonprofit, but alleges that Bryant used her daughter’s email account when she first created the website in 2011. alter the content, functioning or existence of the website,” the lawsuit reads.

The Black Girls Code complaint says the nonprofit is “taking action to restore its web presence” and in the meantime is using its Twitter account for correspondence. The nonprofit claims it has helped more girls this summer than in years before, and has “never been in a stronger position.”

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


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