Kanye West faces accusations of discrimination

April 8, 2024 4:24 pm

Rapper Kanye West [Source: CNN Entertainment]

A former employee of Kanye West has filed suit accusing the controversial artist of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, among other allegations.

Trevor Phillips filed the lawsuit Tuesday against the rapper, whose legal name is Ye, as well as his Yeezy company and his Los Angeles-based K-12 Christian private school Donda Academy.

In the suit obtained by CNN, Phillips alleges that West “treated the black staff considerably worse than white employees,” calling the discrimination “severe.”

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The former employee further alleges that he witnessed West “spew forth hate, profess antisemitic tropes and lies, threaten the LGBTQ+ community, and even on one occasion, almost sexually stimulate himself.”

CNN has reached out to a representative for West for comment.

According to the suit, Phillips was hired around November 2022 to work for West’s Yeezy fashion brand, but his position eventually expanded to include working at Donda Academy, the school West founded and named for his late mother.

In October 2022, West wore a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt and dressed several Black models in clothing with the same phrase at his YZY runway show at Paris fashion week; the slogan has been linked by the Anti-Defamation League to the Ku Klux Klan.

Then in a 45-minute “Drink Champs” podcast episode later that month, the rapper made numerous outrageous and antisemitic comments that caused financial repercussions for him and his brand partners.

West continued to reiterate his comments that some deemed antisemitic and anti-black.

The suit makes reference to West’s comments and social media posts at the time.

The suit also alleges that West “proudly touted his discriminatory conspiracies of Jews during meeting at the Donda Academy.” Phillips, it states “on several occasions, witnessed Kanye preach to his staff obscenities.”

Kanye, the suit alleges, “started to openly discuss how he only likes to date white women,” and at one point, told two school children “that he wanted them to shave their heads and that he intended to put a jail at the school – and that they could be locked in cages.”

The school reportedly shut down in 2023, but the lawsuit says “on information and belief, Donda Academy still operates to this day.”

CNN reached out to the Donda Academy for comment. A phone number listed for the school on the California Department of Education website is no longer in service.

In the suit, Phillips also alleges an uncomfortable three hour meeting he says he had with West in which his then-boss raved about Hitler and said “gay people are not true Christians.”

The suit states that Phillips’ employment with Donda Academy ended in August 2023.

Phillips is seeking a jury trial and a minimum of $35,000 in damages.

In December 2023, West posted an apology to the Jewish community for any “unintended outburst caused” by his “words or actions.”