Kanye West Sued for ‘Forced Labor’, Allegedly Called Workers ‘New Slaves’

Eight former employees from Yeezy Apparel have filed a lawsuit against Kanye West and the company’s chief of staff Milo Yiannopoulous, alleging that they were subjected to “extreme racism and bullying,” and were forced to work long hours for no pay.

The eight employees, all young adults or teenagers from the US, UK, Hungary, and Nigeria, alleged that they suffered discrimination and harassment while working on an app West and Yiannopolous were developing.

In the complaint filed on June 29 in the US District Court for the Central District of California, the former app development team alleged that they were “bullied” over their racial, gender, or LBGT identities.

They claimed that some development team members were described as “slaves” in work-related Discord chats. The Discord channel set up for members of the development team was labeled “New Slaves,” the lawsuit claims.

According to a June 30 statement from Thigpen Legal, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, the black employees were segregated and assigned “less favorable work” than white employees. Meanwhile, the employees who were minors were “mocked for their age” and subjected to pornography that was “freely shared in the workplace.”

The complaint alleges that the employees were told that their pay would be withheld if they refused to work without breaks or work long hours, including 12-hour overnight shifts.

The app the team was working on was completed in early May. However, the plaintiffs claim that they still have not been paid.

The plaintiffs allege stressful working conditions with constantly changing deadlines and claim that others on the development team created a hostile, intimidating, and harassing work environment, which caused some of the plaintiffs to suffer depression and anxiety for which they sought medical treatment.

The lawsuit seeks damages, including compensation for emotional distress and back pay.

In a June 30 post on X, Yiannopoulos dismissed the lawsuit as a “joke” spearheaded by a “disgruntled, comically inept Black developer” who was angry that he didn’t get a full-time job.