Kanye West Allegedly Told Donda Academy Students They 'Could Be Locked in Cages,' According to New Lawsuit

Former employee Trevor Phillips filed a complaint against the rapper, accusing him of discrimination and harassment

<p>Taylor Hill/FilmMagic</p> Kanye West in 2020.

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Kanye West in 2020.

A former employee of Kanye West’s has filed a complaint against the controversial rapper, claiming he suffered “severe discrimination, harassment” and more while working for the star’s Yeezy brand and at his Donda Academy school.

Trevor Phillips filed suit against West, 46, on Tuesday in Los Angeles with a complaint that claimed the “Gold Digger” rapper once told students at Donda Academy that he was going to put a jail at the school where they could be locked in cages. He also claimed West often spewed hateful, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric within earshot of students.

“By filing this lawsuit, we hope our injured clients’ rights are vindicated, and that the famous artist Mr. West understands that his messages — which we alleged preach discrimination, antisemitism and Hitler-love — have no place in the world,” Phillips’ attorney Carney R. Shegerian said in a statement.

A representative for West — who in 2021 legally changed his name to Ye — did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Phillips said in the complaint, which was obtained by PEOPLE, that he considered West an “inspiration” when the star hired him to work at his Yeezy clothing brand in November 2022.

Related: Fired Donda Academy Teachers Sue Kanye West, Allege School Had 'Lack of Safety' — Including Only Serving Sushi

Vince Bucci/Getty Kanye West and his mother Donda West, after whom Donda Academy is named.
Vince Bucci/Getty Kanye West and his mother Donda West, after whom Donda Academy is named.

Before long, he was also doing work for Donda Academy, where his daughter and younger brother attended school (West founded the K-12 Christian private school in 2022). Phillips alleges that West would often spout harmful rhetoric at the school, and praised Adolf Hitler while engaging Holocaust denial and threats to the LGBTQ+ community.

“In front of the schoolchildren, Kanye continued his dangerous rhetoric. Kanye started to openly discuss how he only likes to date White women,” the complaint reads. “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.”

Phillips claims West would often “scream [at] and berate” his Black employees in ways he did not his White employees, and that he told his staffers he would fire anyone who was “fat.” The former staffer also described an encounter with West in which the star simulated masturbation during a bizarre dinner meeting at Nobu in Malibu.

Elsewhere in the complaint, Phillips says West bragged about spending $2 million of the school’s budget on a trip to Paris, and that he was forced to do dangerous electrical wire work in the rain.

Tensions between Phillips and West culminated in May 2023, when West allegedly berated Phillips in front of 100 people amid an “immature temper tantrum.”

<p>Dave Kotinsky/Getty</p> Kanye West performing in 2016.

Dave Kotinsky/Getty

Kanye West performing in 2016.

Related: Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels Jokingly Takes Credit for Existence of Yeezy on 40th Anniversary of Debut Album (Exclusive)

“His dream of working for someone he once admired as a great artist was like his spirit — crushed,” the complaint says. “While Kanye considered himself a god or king, in reality he was an ill-tempered tyrant and despot, who sought to mentally obliterate and control those around him.”

Phillips — who worked his last day at Donda Academy in August 2023 — says his time working for West led to psychological and emotional distress, humiliation and mental and physical pain and anguish. He is seeking damages in excess of $35,000.

West was previously sued in April 2023 by two women who were fired as teachers at Donda Academy. They claimed the school allegedly violated multiple Department of Education requirements and did not follow state regulations.

West has been under fire in recent years for making antisemitic comments; in October 2022, he forfeited his status as a billionaire after losing deals with Adidas, Balenciaga and Gap.

The suit comes weeks after West and Ty Dolla $ign were sued by the estate of Donna Summer over an unauthorized interpolation of her song “I Feel Love” on their collaborative ¥$ project Vultures 1.

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