Saturday, July 13, 2024

Ex-Kanye West Employees Claim Hostile Workplace, Unpaid Wages: Lawsuit

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Kanye West and his Yeezy company have been accused of mistreating  several staff members — including bullying and not paying a number of them while they worked on developing a streaming app earlier this year — in a new lawsuit filed Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

Eight employees, including some minors, allege that West (who know goes by Ye), his then-chief of staff Milo Yiannopolous, and his Yeezy company did not pay team members and also referred to them as “slaves” and “new slaves” along with other derogatory treatment. They also claim they were exposed to pornographic images in the “hostile work environment.” The plaintiffs are seeking payment for unpaid wages along with attorney fees, as well as damages for emotional distress.

According to the lawsuit, the team involved in filing the suit was working to develop a streaming service app for Ye, intended to promote Vultures 2. Yeezy acquired the app YZYVSN to carry out the venture, and the team comprised staffers from around the world, including, per the lawsuit, minors as young as age 14.

Some of the team’s communications were carried out on Discord, where team members were bullied over age, race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicities, according to the suit. The complaint also claims that racial slurs were made against Black team members and only white team members were promised developer positions at the company.

Per the suit, some team members claim they were called “slaves,” and a Discord channel for newcomers was named “new slaves” before a Black team member requested it be renamed. The suit also alleges that minors were subjected to pornography in group chats.

In 2022, Rolling Stone reported that former Yeezy team members accused West of using porn, bullying, and “mind games” to control them. In public, West has referred to a “full-on pornography addiction” that “destroyed my family.” 

According to the recent suit, after the streaming service app was completed, Yeezy and Yiannopoulis said that the team members would be paid, but the payment never came, the suit claims.

“No guardrails were put in place to prevent the underage YZYVSN workers from working on Yeezy Porn, or to prevent them from being exposed to and being forced to view pornography to perform their work,” the lawsuit states. In April, Ye announced he was planning to launch a Yeezy Porn adult film studio; in May, Yiannopoulos resigned from his chief of staff position over Ye’s plans to move into the pornography business.

An attorney for West did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

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Yiannopolous responded to Rolling Stone’s request for comment with links to two of his posts on X, formerly Twitter, where he denied the allegations, calling the filing a “joke lawsuit.” Of the hiring minors claim, he wrote, “The company has signed releases from and contractor agreements with every contributor to every closed and every open source project, including parents or guardians where appropriate,” and added: “Yeezy Porn doesn’t exist, so could not have been shown to anyone.”

The latest suit, which was filed in a United States District Court in California, is one of several other lawsuits the rapper is facing from former employees. Earlier this month, West’s ex-assistant Lauren Pisciotta accused him of sexual harassment, breach of contract, and wrongful termination. West said he would countersue, with a statement from his legal representative calling Pisciotta’s claims “baseless” and accused her of engaging in “blackmail and extortion” after he rejected her sexual advances. In April, former Yeezy and Donda Academy employee Trevor Phillips sued West, joining a number of former employees, accusing him of spewing “dangerous rhetoric” including antisemitic remarks and at one point threatening to punch him.



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