The backlash keeps piling up for Aaron Schlossberg, a New York lawyer caught on video last year hurling racist comments at restaurant workers in Manhattan. Last week a former record label client sued Schlossberg, alleging that the lawyer’s viral video tirade sullied the business’s reputation.
Niche Music Group LLC, a small record label based in Pittsburgh, lodged a complaint accusing Schlossberg in New York state court of legal malpractice and breach of contract. The suit features several references to an incident in May, in which Schlossberg was caught on video berating the manager of a Fresh Kitchen restaurant in Manhattan.
Schlossberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The video from May shows Schlossberg, who is white, reacting after he overheard conversation in Spanish between restaurant employ. The lawyer accused the Fresh Kitchen workers of being “undocumented” and threatened to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The video spread across social media and generated public outcry over Schlossberg’s anti-immigrant and racially charged comments. Schlossberg later issued a formal apology on Twitter in which he denied being a racist and praised his home city of New York for its “remarkable diversity.” Schlossberg remains in good standing with the New York Bar, and he has no public record of discipline.
Niche Music, which focuses on a capella and other specialty music, had tapped the lawyer in early 2018 to represent it in a breach of contract lawsuit against Orchard Enterprises Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment. Within 10 days of the viral video’s posting, Niche Music dropped Schlossberg as its lawyer. The record label has a statement about the lawyer posted on its website.
“After hearing Aaron Schlossberg’s views on the video, we decided to fire him from the single case for which we had hired him. Schlossberg was never our in-house counsel,” said the statement by Niche Music president Stephen Wilde and general counsel Jonathan Clunies. “We were not aware of his views and he never expressed them to us. We are appalled by his comments and behavior.”
In Thursday’s lawsuit, filed by Clunies, Niche Music alleged that in the wake of the rant video’s spread, news outlets began publicly identifying Schlossberg’s clients, including the record label.
The incident caught the record label unaware, while the video’s notoriety tarnished Niche Music’s reputation and forced it to spend time and money finding replacement lawyers in its litigation against Orchard and Sony, the suit said. Niche Music is seeking damages of at least $50,000.
“Schlossberg owed a duty to Niche to conduct himself in public in such a way as to not discredit himself or his clients,” the suit said. “Schlossberg knew or reasonably should have known that his multiple public racist outbursts would reflect poorly on himself, his clients and his profession.”