Hello Alice, co-founded by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, has been named in a class-action lawsuit for teaming up with Progressive Insurance Co. to award up to $25,000 in grants to 10 Black-owned businesses, according to The Press Democrat.
Spearheading the lawsuit is Nathan Roberts, who owns an Ohio-based trucking dispatch company, the outlet discloses. In addition, Progressive Preferred Insurance Co., Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. and Circular Board LLC — which operates Hello Alice — are listed as defendants in the lawsuit filed by America First Legal, Mitchell Law PLLC and Ashbrook Byrne Kresge LLC.
Roberts claims he was unaware that Progressive Insurance’s Driving Small Business Forward fund program was only for Black-owned businesses. America First Legal vice president and general counsel Gene Hamilton described the program as “offensive to the American ideal.”
“All Americans deserve to be free from racial discrimination, yet major corporations across the United States inject racial considerations into every aspect of their business operations, employment practices and so much more,” Hamilton wrote in a statement. “We will fight to vindicate his rights and the rights of all similarly situated Americans.”
Founded in 2017 as a way to provide funding to small businesses, Hello Alice has shared its own statement in the midst of the lawsuit, which was filed in August 2023.
“The activists at AFL (America First Legal) are using their lawsuit against Hello Alice to support their efforts to fundraise,” the statement read. “Our values are not ‘gentle-sounding euphemisms.’ These are the pillars upon which we built Hello Alice and guide our mission to drive capital, connections, and opportunities into the hands of small businesses of all types and backgrounds.”
Dear fellow small business owners, Hello Alice is being sued for our commitment to you. Help us lift up 5 million voices to #ElevateTheAmericanDream.
We were founded on the principle of equality, with the aim of ensuring that everyone – women, men, people of color, U.S.…
— Hello Alice (@HelloAlice) October 4, 2023
While the lawsuit against Hello Alice unfolds, Fearless Fund received an update in late September 2023. As previously reported by AFROTECH, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit temporarily blocked the fund from awarding grants to Black women entrepreneurs. An official ruling is set to be declared by another panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals.