Kanye Threatened to Lock Kids in ‘Cages’ at Donda Academy, Lawsuit Alleges

Rich Fury/Getty ICH FURY
Rich Fury/Getty ICH FURY

Kanye West allegedly told students at his embattled Christian private school he wanted to shave their heads and lock them in “cages,” spewed antisemitic rhetoric at staff meetings, and even boasted about using school funds on a multimillion-dollar trip to Paris, a former employee claims in an explosive new lawsuit.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles, Trevor Phillips alleges he faced discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation by West, now known as Ye, during his nine-month employment at Yeezy and Donda Academy that began in November 2022.

He claims that in addition to Ye’s hateful rhetoric—including one instance in which he compared himself to Hitler—the rapper “physically threatened” him during an argument about the school’s garden, summoned him to Nobu in the middle of the night, and once simulated masturbating during a meeting at a California hotel. The lawsuit also names the school and Ye’s fashion brand Yeezy as defendants, and seeks $35,000 in damages.

“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,” Phillip’s lawyer, Carney R. Shegerian, said in a statement to The Daily Beast.

Ye’s lawyers and rep did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In response to similar lawsuits filed by former Donda Academy faculty, his lawyer has dismissed allegations against the school.

The most recent lawsuit says Phillips was initially hired to work at Yeezy, with Ye telling him part of the job included overseeing projects related to “growing cotton and other plants to use as materials” for the brand. “Phillips—having watched Kanye’s meteoric rise into superstardom during his youth and much of his adult life—was thrilled to be working for one of the most famous artists of his generation,” the lawsuit says.

He later pivoted to work for Donda Academy, the K-12 private school in Simi Valley, California, amid the ongoing backlash over Ye’s antisemitic comments online. The artist’s October 2022 comments resulted in Adidas and Gap cutting business ties with Yeezy—as well as the landlord for one of the school’s properties.

In this hybrid role, the lawsuit says Phillips was expected to always be on call despite not receiving his full salary. While at Donda Academy, Phillips alleges Ye touted his “discriminatory conspiracies of Jews during meetings,” which staffers had to ignore out of fear of losing their jobs.

In one conversation in front of two students, the lawsuit alleges Ye “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 lawsuit added. “The staff quickly distracted the children, and escorted them out of the room.”

“Kanye also told the employees in that meeting that no staff could be fat—otherwise he would fire them,” the lawsuit says.

Phillips says he also had problematic encounters with Ye outside of school. In one December 2022 incident, the lawsuit alleges Ye asked Phillips to meet him at the Nobu Hotel in Malibu to talk about work. Instead, Ye allegedly spent the three-hour meeting denying the Holocaust, complimenting Hitler, and attacking the LGBTQ community.

“Gay people are not true Christians,” Ye allegedly told Phillips during the hotel meeting, the lawsuit says. “And Gay people are controlled by Bill Gates so that they don’t have children for population control.”

Before Phillips left, Ye also made them watch The Batman on mute, and at one point simulated masturbating while talking about sex, the lawsuit alleges.

Around the same time, Ye allegedly boasted to school and Yeezy staffers that he spent $20 million of the school’s budget on a trip to Paris. The documents also state that West gave white employees preferential treatment and berated his Black employees.

The relationship between Ye and Phillips soured by May 2023, when the rapper threw a “temper tantrum” and threatened to punch him over an argument about a garden project, according to the filing. The lawsuit alleges that Ye fired and rehired him until August 2023, when the school finally shut down.

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