Kanye West Sued By Ex-Employee Over Back Pay and Unsafe Working Conditions

In the latest of many lawsuits against Kanye West, a singer who moonlights in security and construction has sued the rapper over back payments and dangerous conditions stemming from a late-2021 attempt to turn the hip-hop star’s Malibu home into an “open-concept, industrial-brutalist, art-style dwelling that’s also a bomb shelter-bunker,” according to the complaint.

In a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Wednesday (Sept. 13), Tony Saxon alleges he injured his back while working on the project and had to spend days at the property with no food or bedding. Accusing West, who legally changed his name to Ye, of disability discrimination, labor-code violations and unlawful wage withholding, Saxon claims the rapper promised him $20,000 a week, but after a month on the job, he received just $20,000 total, plus $120,000 for reimbursement of construction costs.

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According to the lawsuit, which is requesting unspecified “monetary relief,” Saxon complained to Ye that he was “ill due to his severe injury on his back and that he needs to rest.” However, “Defendant disregarded Plaintiff’s concerns and instead responded by asking to discuss the next phase of the project.”

In an interview from his attorney’s Los Angeles office, Saxon says he requested a meeting with Ye and the project leader, then wound up in a room with them as well as “50 random people.” Ye mentioned his desire to install generators inside the building, which Saxon suggested would be unsafe, and the rapper became angry. “He told me I was a Clinton, a Kardashian, an enemy, and I was not going to be his friend anymore,” Saxon says. “So that’s how that ended.”

Saxon, 32, who describes himself as a recording artist, DJ and soul singer, says his music-business connections led him to a fashion photographer who put him in touch with the head of Ye’s construction project. In September 2021, Ye had reportedly purchased a Malibu house built by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando for more than $57 million. Soon after that, Saxon worked on the house for three straight days without knowing the owner’s identity. Ye then showed up and requested to “rip out the finest marble and all these crazy fixtures that wired the house.”

Says Saxon: “It was just absurd.”

Ron Zambrano, Saxon’s attorney, also represents a gym teacher at Ye’s Donda Academy who filed suit in July over unsafe conditions. Among other things, the school did not contain windows, because, according to the teacher’s lawsuit, Ye “did not like glass.”

“What we’re seeing are the symptoms of Kanye’s inability to respect people’s time and pay for them,” Zambrano says. “He goes into people’s lives: ‘I have an idea, I have lots of money, you have to drop everything in the world and I promise to pay you.’ Then he gets bored and goes somewhere else and normal people get left in the lurch.” Zambrano adds that if you “do the math,” potential damages could add up to “seven figures.”

Attorneys for Ye did not respond to Billboard‘s requests for comment.

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