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Kanye West wanted to ‘lock up’ Donda students and threatened to hit staffer: lawsuit

Kanye West in February. -Credit: Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images

A former Yeezy and Donda Academy employee claims Kanye West wanted to install a prison at his school to “cage” students, threatened to hit him during a “tantrum” and gave preferential treatment to white employees, according to a new lawsuit obtained Through Rolling stone.

Trevor Phillips filed suit against the rapper, who now goes by Ye, in Los Angeles on Tuesday, joining a number of former employees who are suing the 46-year-old. The 42-page complaint provides a behind-the-scenes look at what Phillips says it’s like to work for the eccentric artist, including spontaneous layoffs, a late-night call to Nobu, watching The Batman on mute, and clumsily navigate while pretending to masturbate. (A representative for West did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

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From the start of his nine-month employment in November 2022, Phillips, who is Black, says it was “immediately apparent” that Ye “treated Black staff significantly worse than white employees” and “would yell and berate Black employees while never so much as to raise his tone to the white staff.

Phillips came on board weeks after Ye’s feud with Adidas and Gap over his anti-Semitic comments and claims Ye continued to “double down” and make similar statements during his tenure. You also threatened to “next go” after the LGBTQ+ community, the lawsuit said, because “gays are controlled by Bill Gates so they don’t have children to control the population.”

According to the indictment, some of Ye’s “dangerous rhetoric” was repeated in front of Donda Academy students, and Ye once allegedly told two children that he wanted them to “shave their heads and that he was planning a prison at the school – and that they could be locked in cages.”

When Phillips tried to push back against Ye’s “bigotry,” the artist responded “ruthlessly, with relentless intimidation, humiliation, and attempts to both mentally control and destroy Phillips,” the lawsuit filed by Shegerian & Associates alleges. “Kanye’s ill will toward the accuser ultimately culminated in a vulgar flogging in front of schoolchildren and their parents. Kanye even threatened Phillips with physical violence.”

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Phillips says he was hired to work for the fashion line Yeezy in November 2022, about a month after the rapper paraded a “White Lives Matter” shirt down the runway at his brand’s Paris Fashion Week show. The spectacle’s widespread criticism led Ye to unleash a stream of anti-Semitic rhetoric, prompting Adidas and Gap to sever their business ties with Yeezy. Phillips’ role in what Ye called the “Vertically Integrated Crew” was now to oversee projects related to “growing cotton and other plants to use as materials” for Yeezy projects. But due to the lingering fallout, Phillips’ job soon transitioned into work for the rapper’s private Christian school Donda Academy and a future self-sustaining community project.

Phillips was expected to be on call 24/7 for his all-encompassing role, according to the lawsuit, and although he was promised a wage of $100 an hour, Phillips was set to earn far less than that and some payments were deferred after the Yeezy bank accounts. were frozen, the complaint alleges.

One of Phillips’ first tasks was to convert one of Ye’s properties in Calabasas into a new campus for Donda Academy after a landlord broke Ye’s lease over his anti-Semitic comments. But by January 2023, Phillips said Ye had scrapped those plans and instead wanted a dilapidated church to be the new facility. Given a deadline of a few weeks, Ye allegedly told Phillips that he expected his team to “complete the renovations without any permits” and later demoted Phillips when he expressed concerns about the safety and legality of completing the renovations.

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While spending time at Donda Academy, Phillips claims Ye began “spreading anti-Semitism” at school assemblies, including in front of some students. Other inappropriate comments allegedly included Ye saying he “only likes to date white women,” and telling his employees that no one could be fat – or they would be fired. Ye also boasted that he used $2 million from the school budget to take a trip to Paris.

During a strange meeting in December 2022, Phillips says Ye asked to meet at the Nobu Hotel in Malibu to discuss business plans. Phillips describes feeling uncomfortable for the next three hours as Ye ranted about Hitler’s greatness, said the Holocaust was fake and said that “gays are not real Christians.” Phillips says that at one point Ye had hotel staff come into the room and put on 2022s The hitteras the two men watched the movie in silence.

While lying flat on the bed, Phillips claims Ye “began making slow up and down motions with his hand just above his genitals as if he was masturbating” and talking about his sex life, the lawsuit says. The rapper then FaceTimed a woman and told her to wear lingerie and shoes he bought her. Phillips “immediately recognized the woman’s name just a few weeks earlier when he was at Yeezy headquarters,” the lawsuit continues. “Kanye had naked photos of her shown to many of the Yeezy employees.”

Phillips claims his relationship with Ye soured in May 2023 after a series of minor misunderstandings, which culminated in Ye throwing a “tantrum” and threatening to punch him. You were apparently unhappy with a garden Phillips was tending and began yelling in front of a crowd that Phillips “needed to get out of here” and that he was “fired the fuck out,” according to the complaint.

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Later, when Phillips pleaded his case to Ye, explaining that his daughter and little brother were both attending Donda and that he was in the midst of an undiagnosed medical condition, Ye reportedly launched into another tirade. “Kanye raised his hand, pointed at Phillips’ neck condition and shouted, ‘Fuck your neck!’” the complaint states. Then pointing to the school, Kanye burped, “And fuck your daughter.” I don’t give a shit.”

“Kanye then ran to the gardens and attempted to pick up the garden and throw it away,” the lawsuit continues. “But too weak and out of shape – failed to pick them up. Instead, he started pulling the plants and individual pieces out of the boxes, tearing them apart and throwing them on the floor, in a fit of rage even worse and more immature than even the youngest Donda schoolchildren had ever done.”

The rapper then “physically threatened” Phillips, according to the complaint, repeatedly saying he was “going to punch you in the face” before his mood suddenly changed. “Imitating Mario’s party dance from the famous Super Mario Brothers video game,” the complaint alleges. “Kanye jumped up with a fist in the air as he said, “I’ll give you one more chance.” Another life!”

Phillips was tasked with investigating a farm that Ye wanted to purchase, but the next day Ye fired him again for being “not at the right level.” Phillips claims he was allowed to continue for the last few days of the school semester and that his last day was August 2023. He is seeking at least $35,000 for what he labels whistleblower retaliation, racial discrimination and a hostile workplace, among eight other causes of action.

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