Kanye West accused of threatening to lock students in cages in new lawsuit

A former employee alleges that the controversial celebrity acted racist toward Black employees, spewed antisemitic rhetoric and threatened children.

As it turns out, Kanye West may not be the best boss in the world. Trevor Phillips, a former employee of the rapper's Donda Academy and Yeezy fashion brand, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday that accuses West of racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and harassment against both the school's students and employees like Phillips.

"From the start of Phillips’ tenure working at Yeezy and Donda, it was immediately apparent to him, and others, that Kanye treated the Black staff considerably worse than white employees," according to the lawsuit. "Even when class was in session, Kanye would scream and berate Black employees, while never even as much raising his tone at the white staff."

Phillips' lawsuit also alleges that the plaintiff saw West "spew forth hate, profess antisemitic tropes and lies, threaten the LGBTQ+ community, and even on one occasion, almost sexually stimulate himself." Phillips also allegedly witnessed West harassing Donda Academy students by threatening to shave their heads and lock them in a cage.

Representatives for West did not immediately respond to Entertainment Weekly's request for comment.

<p>Scott Dudelson/Getty </p> Kanye West

Scott Dudelson/Getty

Kanye West

Phillips was originally hired in 2022 to work at Yeezy, West's fashion brand, but was eventually directed to also work with Donda Academy, the Christian K-12 school founded by West earlier that year.

After West talked about how much he admired Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and hated Jewish people in December 2022, his business relationships with brands like Adidas collapsed, and "West's wealth nosedived," according to the lawsuit. With Yeezy's accounts frozen by Adidas, Phillips was paid with funds from Donda Academy and started working there as well.

The lawsuit also details a few specific incidents of West's strange behavior. In one meeting with both Donda Academy staff and two students, the lawsuit claims that, "Kanye started to openly discuss how he only likes to date white women. Then addressing the two school children, Kanye told them 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 staff quickly distracted the children, and escorted them out of the room."

Another incident detailed in the lawsuit involved West allegedly inviting Phillips to meet him alone at the Nobu Hotel in Los Angeles. When the two were by themselves in a hotel room, the lawsuit claims that West (dressed in the same black outfit that he wore during his 2022 interview with Alex Jones) spewed more antisemitic rants, saying “I hate Jewish people" and "Hitler was great," among other things.

The lawsuit also claims that he sexually harassed Phillips during this meeting, talking about porn and orgies while he moved his hands in a masturbatory motion. Fearful for his daughter and his younger brother (who were both students at Donda Academy) and reluctant to disappoint his mother, who also worked at Donda and helped get him the job with West, Phillips says that he stayed at the hotel with his boss until 1 a.m.

Phillips alleges that he was repeatedly abused and humiliated in front of other employees and staff, and was never paid termination or severance after Donda Academy shut down in August 2023. West has since said he will reopen the school at some future date.

Phillips is seeking punitive damages and a jury trial.

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