Ye accused of racial discrimination, antisemitism and retaliation

Dive Brief:

  • Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, is at the center of a workplace discrimination and retaliation lawsuit (Phillips v. Yeezy LLC). A former worker filed the suit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Ye of engaging in racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and creating a hostile work environment, among other claims. 
  • The employee, who worked for both Yeezy and Donda Academy, alleged that Ye spewed hate speech, including anti-LGBTQ+ and antisemitic remarks, and continually threatened him after he spoke out.
  •  The worker is seeking more than $35,000 in damages.

Dive Insight:

Experts say they’ve identified a rise in antisemitism over the past few years, in part due to a rise in discriminatory COVID-19 conspiracy theories. 

Ye has long been accused of attacking Jewish people and creating a toxic work environment, but the conflict came to a head in late 2022, when Adidas, which produced Ye’s Yeezy line, parted ways with the artist following his antisemitic remarks on X. 

Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” the company said in a statement at the time. 

Jewish advocates expressed their belief that the split should have come sooner.

Then, in November 2022, Adidas announced it had launched an internal investigation in response to ex-employees publishing an anonymous letter claiming the brand ignored previous claims of Ye’s antisemitism.

An employment law attorney who frequently addresses audiences on antisemitism noted at a Society for Human Resource Management event that antisemitism at work can appear in a variety ways; he told audience members to be vigilant for anything from sweeping generalizations to off-color jokes.

He also told HR professionals that inclusion and belonging work is necessary in the wake of any Holocaust denial at work — even once the toxic, vocal individual engaging in it has been fired.