"New slaves": Kanye West, Milo Yiannopoulos sued by ex-employees alleging racism and bullying

The rapper and fashion designer is being sued for discrimination on race, gender and sexual orientation

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published July 1, 2024 5:14PM (EDT)

Kanye West is seen on March 21, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Kanye West is seen on March 21, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

More Yeezy employees are coming forward against Kanye "Ye" West, alleging that the rapper and fashion brand owner participated in fostering an environment rife with bullying against minority employees, exploitation of labor and unpaid wages and even exposing underage employees to pornography.

In a lawsuit filed on June 29, NBC News reported that West and former Yeezy apparel chief of staff Milo Yiannopoulos are being sued by eight former employees that range from young adults to minors. The law firm representing the ex-employees said in a statement that they endured "intolerable harassment and discrimination" while working on an app for Yeezy.

Moreover, the ex-employees who worked on the app's development claimed that they were “regularly and viciously bullied” for their race, gender and sexual orientation. According to the lawsuit, some employees were called "slaves" in a work group chat. It also claimed that new members of the team were put in a Discord channel called "new slaves."

"Black and African employees were segregated and given less favorable work assignments, and separate 'whites only' working groups were formed," the statement said.

Not only were Black and African employees allegedly made to feel segregated from their white counterparts and called slurs, minors allegedly were exposed to sexually explicit content in work group chats.

"Minor workers were mocked for their age. In addition, pornography from defendants’ venture Yeezy Porn was freely shared in the workplace when minors were present," the statement said.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that West's wife and head of architecture at Yeezy, Bianca Censori, sent one of the employees a link to "hard-core porn" for Yeezy Porn. The underage employees said that Yeezy had no guidelines or structure for protecting underage workers from seeing the pornographic pictures that were "openly disseminated" in work group chats.

While Yiannopoulos left the company in May over his qualms with West building a porn studio, the far-right political commentator and former editor of Breitbart News, said on X that the claims were a "joke lawsuit" spearheaded by "a disgruntled, comically inept Black developer I call Hotep Susan who is mad he didn’t get chosen for a full-time Yeezy job.

"The company has signed releases from and contractor agreements with every contributor to every closed and every open source project, including parents or guardians where appropriate," he said. "Yeezy Porn doesn’t exist, so could not have been shown to anyone. Clowns."

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Alongside the alleged discrimination and exposure to porn, the suit also claimed that employees said that the company threatened to withhold their pay if they didn't agree to work long hours without breaks. Even though the app was finished in May, the statement said that none of the employees had been compensated for their work. 

"Many members of the app development team described the stress of workplace conditions, the constant deadline changes, and the cult-like behavior of other workers [on the development team] as hostile, intimidating, and harassing," the lawsuit said.

West did not respond to NBC News' attempts to comment on the lawsuit. In the last several years, the rapper and head of Yeezy has had a string of lawsuits and allegations of workplace abuse and harassment follow him. In June, West's ex-assistant sued him for sexual harassment and withholding wages. Also in April, a former employee sued the rapper for threatening staff and students at Donda Academy, West's private and unaccredited Christian school. The employee claimed that West created a discriminatory and hostile environment where he likened himself to Adolf Hitler. 


By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Aggregate Kanye West Lawsuit Milo Yiannopoulos Music Racism Yeezy