Mr Smith is being sued by Cintas, the largest US provider of uniform clothing, over remarks he made introducing a shareholder resolution in October.
The complaint, filed before federal court in Cincinnati in January, says Mr Smith defamed Cintas when he claimed the company was sourcing from a factory in Haiti “which is a poster child for sweatshops”, in violation of its code of conduct.
Mr Smith is one of the best known figures in the US SRI community. “He is one of the gurus of the movement,” says Mila Rosenthal, head of Amnesty International USA’s business programme.
Before joining Walden, Mr Smith worked for 24 years at the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, where he pioneered the use of shareholder resolutions to raise social and environmental concerns.
The majority of some 180 SRI resolutions still pending this season have been prepared through the ICCR, whose membership has a combined portfolio of about $110bn.
The US proxy season has brought the usual raft of shareholder resolutions filed by social and environmental groups.
More than 120 companies face motions on issues from greenhouse gas emissions at Ford and General Motors to reducing the amount of smoking seen in films at Viacom.
This year, Tyco and Coca Cola recommended support of activist resolutions respectively on their environmental and HIV/Aids policies.
In another developing trend, proxy statements this year from American Electric Power and Cynergy highlighted an agreement to review climate change policies that led to the withdrawal of a critical resolution.