On June 20, 2023, Outdoor Research employee Johnathan Talbot was leaving a focus group in Bozeman, Montana, when he saw Manoah Ainuu, a North Face-sponsored ice climber who has used his platform to decry what he sees as systemic racism. Talbot introduced himself to Ainuu and mentioned that he had been on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at his previous job. Ainuu then began accusing Talbot of being a racist and having white privilege. At 3:00 a.m. the next morning, Ainuu took to Instagram and told his 15K followers that Talbot had said racist things and tried to fight him. Ainuu encouraged his followers to get Talbot fired from his job. The most egregious of these posts was re-shared by a North Face executive who managed sponsored athletes. Ainuu continued his crusade against Talbot for several days, and it ultimately resulted in Talbot being fired from his job at Outdoor Research.
On October 2, 2023, on behalf of Johnathan Talbot, we filed a lawsuit in the Federal District of Montana against Ainuu and North Face for defamation and tortious interference with prospective economic relations.
This case is currently being litigated.