Kanye West (now Ye) is being sued by a former employee who claims he was forced to work in dangerous conditions and sleep on the floor of a property the rapper was renovating.
In the latest of many lawsuits against the rapper, Tony Saxon who was working in numerous roles at Ye’s house in Malibu in 2021, claims he injured his back while on the project and had to spend days at the property with no food or bedding.
Saxon is accusing West, who legally changed his name to the two-letter moniker Ye, of labor-code violations including hazardous working conditions, unlawful wage withholding, and wrongful termination.
According to the suit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court and reviewed by Sky News, Ye fired Saxon after he refused to remove all of the windows and electricity from his home in order to create a “bomb shelter”.
On 22 October 2021, according to the lawsuit, Saxon complained that he was “exhausted” from the long hours and needed time to rest but was ignored by Ye. Shortly after, he claims, he badly injured his back while working but his requests for time off were again ignored.
The final blow came in November 2021, when Ye allegedly sacked him for refusing to bring large power generators into the home on safety grounds.
“I said ‘Are you trying to kill me? Are you trying to kill everyone that works here?’ Saxon told Sky News.
“He told me, ‘If you don’t listen to me then you’re an enemy, you’re a Clinton, you’re a Kardashian and I’m not going to be your friend anymore. I’m not going to give you an opportunity anymore’.”
“I was a prisoner”
Ye hired Saxon, a musician who has a background in construction consultation, in September 2021 to oversee the renovation work on his newly purchased $57 million Malibu pad, according to the lawsuit.
As part of his role, Saxon says he was expected to hire contractors, coordinate workers at the house, and provide around-the-clock security for $20,000 per week. But, according to the lawsuit, Saxon received just $20,000 in total after a month on the job along with $100,000 for construction costs—he claims he is owed $1 million.
The rapper wanted to turn his 4,000-square-foot oceanfront Tadao Ando-designed property into an “open concept but off the grid” bunker, Saxon recently revealed in an Instagram post detailing his experience.
“I was living there running my ass ragged for him working 18 hours a day running 2 crews night and day for months,” Saxon wrote while adding that he “messed” his back and neck “for life” in the process.
Saxon goes on to explain that during his time working for Ye, the disgraced artist fired all security staff at the house, leaving Saxon to carry out the role alone despite the “constant onslaught of drones” flying over the property and “paparazzi showing up at all hours of the day”.
“This became dangerous as hell,” Saxon said. “I was a prisoner of the house. I couldn’t leave it alone as I was the only one with a key authorized or I trusted to live there. I was trapped.”
“I slept on a floor and he would freak out [on] me if I wasn’t wearing black,” he continued while sharing photos of his makeshift bed surrounded by bottled water and snacks.
According to the lawsuit, Saxon spent the entirety of his employment “sleeping in makeshift conditions, finding empty spaces on the ground and using his coat as a makeshift bedding”.
These conditions allegedly persisted despite “constant complaints” from Saxon about his sleeping conditions and other hazards including workers “unsafely demolishing various parts of the house with no safety equipment”.
Saxon’s lawyer, Ron Zambrano, told Sky News: “Ye has shown a reckless disregard toward his employees and has flouted the law in unbelievably dangerous ways throughout this entire project at the Malibu house.
“No employee should have to suffer through the sort of working conditions Mr Saxon was forced to endure yet Ye showed no concern and merely wanted the work done, despite the hazardous and unsafe, not to mention illegal, actions he was trying to force the plaintiff to undertake.”
Ye and his representatives didn’t respond to Fortune’s request for comment.
A growing list of lawsuits
Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed by the same attorneys suing Ye over allegations connected to his private Christian school, Donda Academy which allege violations of labor laws and educational guidelines, retaliatory practices, unsafe conditions for students, and mismanagement.
Students weren’t allowed to sit in chairs, the Holocaust was omitted from the school’s history classes, and there was no janitorial and medical staff in sight at the Southern California-based private school, according to the lawsuit filed by two former Donda teachers.
Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers, the only two Black female teachers at the academy, said they were fired after expressing concerns about conditions at the school to administrators, according to a copy of their complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, reviewed by Fortune.
They’re suing Ye and three academy directors for wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and wages they say were withheld.
Among many other suits that have been filed against Ye, one includes a paparazzi photographer who is suing Ye for assault, battery and negligence after he was caught on camera grabbing her phone and throwing it into the street.
Ye is also being sued for $4.5 Million by his former business manager, Thomas St. John, who claims he wasn’t remunerated for all of his work, meanwhile, a production company, The Phantom Labs, is similarly taking the rapper to court for allegedly not paying them $7.1m worth of work.