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Kanye West, known as Ye, watches the first half of an NBA basketball game between the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers, on March 11, 2022, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File

A lawsuit filed Saturday in a United States District Court in California claims the rapper Ye (formerly Kanye West) and his company created harsh labor conditions, bullying staff members and neglecting to pay a number of Yeezy employees during the development of a streaming app earlier this year.

The eight employees, some of whom are minors, allege that Ye, then-chief of staff Milo Yiannopoulos and the Yeezy company did not pay team members for long working hours and subjected them to cruel and derogatory behavior, calling them “slaves” and “new slaves,” while also exposing them to pornographic images in what they described to be a hostile work environment. The employees are seeking payment for unpaid wages and attorney fees, as well as damages for emotional distress.

The lawsuit is the latest accusation from former employees of Ye, who is facing several other lawsuits. An attorney for Ye, Brian Brumfield, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When reached by The Washington Post on Sunday, Yiannopoulos, a right-wing commentator, pointed to a statement he shared on X, in which he denied the allegations and called the lawsuit “a joke” and “the most dishonest thing I’ve ever seen filed with a court.”

According to the latest lawsuit, problems arose as Ye aimed to create his own streaming service app to help promote and the May release of his album, “Vultures 2.” The Yeezy company acquired the YZYVSN, an app made by developers seeking to work with Ye, for the venture. The team included staffers from around the world, including, the lawsuit claims, minors as young as 14.

Some developer communication, according to the lawsuit, was done on Discord, a messaging service prominent among tech teams and gamers. Those environments became hostile as team members were bullied over their age, race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicities, the lawsuit says.

Racial slurs were used to demean Black team members, and only White team members were promised developer jobs at Yeezy, according to the lawsuit.

In some cases, team members were called “slaves,” while another Discord channel for newcomers was called “new slaves,” the suit says. The “new slaves” channel name – also the title of a Kanye West song from his 2013 album “Yeezus” – was eventually changed after Shemar DaCosta, a Black team member, asked for the switch, the suit says.

Yiannopoulos “actively participated in and perpetuated” the harassment, according to the lawsuit, which notes that he allegedly shared black- and brown-hued emojis to communicate with employees of color.

Minors were also exposed to pornography in the group chats maintained by Ye and the Yeezy company, the lawsuit alleges. In late April, as Ye began to promote the idea of a “Yeezy Porn” adult film company, Ye’s wife, Bianca Censori, allegedly sent one team member a link to “hardcore pornography.”

“No guardrails were put in place to prevent the underage YZYVSN workers from working on Yeezy Porn, or to prevent them from being exposed to and being forced to view pornography to perform their work,” the lawsuit said. (Yiannopoulos eventually left Yeezy due to clashes over the Yeezy Porn adult film company concept.)

Once the streaming service app was completed in May, Yeezy and Yiannopoulos told team members that they would be paid for their work, but the promised payment never came, the lawsuit says.

Ye has faced a number of lawsuits and accusations from former employees in recent years. In June, a woman who worked for Yeezy claimed he sexually harassed her, stalked her and failed to pay her millions in severance, among other accusations. West denied any wrongdoing. In 2022, several Yeezy staffers accused Ye of showing them pornographic material and sexual content, according to a report from Rolling Stone. Ye has previously claimed to have a pornography addiction, which, he said, was detrimental to his family and personal health.

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