Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Re: Racial Discrimination Goes Better With Coke?

A bizarre postscript to my post two months ago in which I highlighted, and questioned the legality of, the diversity quotas for outside counsel that Coca-Cola’s new general counsel Bradley Gayton had announced:

Yesterday Coca-Cola announced that Gayton is leaving his position as GC after only eight months on the job. The official line is that Gayton “has been appointed to a strategic consultant role” in which he will supposedly “focus on working with Chairman and CEO James Quincey to drive certain key objectives.” It’s quite a lavish position. As one article reports:

As part of the agreement, [Gayton] will receive a $4 million sign-on payment and a monthly consulting fee of $666,666, beginning this month and ending April 2022.

It’s difficult to take seriously the consulting deal. What special strategic insights would Gayton—who previously spent three decades in-house with Ford Motor Company—possibly have that would lead Quincey to pay him such an exorbitant amount? The nominal agreement seems more like a payoff, but for what? There is surely an interesting (even if entirely innocent) story behind all of this that some enterprising reporter should try to dig up.

Gayton is also reported to have “received almost $4.7 million in total compensation” for his four months of employment with Coca-Cola in 2021. So he will have received some $17 million for his eight months as general counsel (and for whatever consulting he ends up doing, which I expect will be close to nothing).

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