Ye wanted to shave Donda Academy students' heads and lock kids in cages, ex-employee says in lawsuit

LOS ANGELES — The artist Ye is accused of spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories in front of the staff and children at his troubled private Christian school during a meeting in which he also allegedly expressed wanting to shave students’ heads and lock them in cages, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a former employee.

In a text message to the former employee, Trevor Phillips, Ye compared himself to Hitler — “minus the gas chambers” — and appeared to simulate masturbation during a one-on-one meeting in a Southern California hotel room where the musician watched “The Batman” on mute, according to the 47-page suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The suit accuses Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, of calling out Black people in a discriminatory manner and praising the Nazi leader, pushing employees to do renovations without permits and telling employees they could be fired for being "fat," the suit says. He temporarily stiffed workers after Adidas cut ties with the rapper over his antisemitic comments, when bank accounts at the rapper's clothing brand, Yeezy, had been frozen, the suit says.

Ye “gloated” to staff at Yeezy, his fashion brand, and Donda Academy, the rapper’s Los Angeles-area school, about using $2 million of the school’s budget for a trip to Paris, according to the suit.

Representatives for Ye and attorneys for Donda Academy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Donda Academy in Simi Valley, Calif. (Google Maps)
The Donda Academy in Simi Valley, Calif. (Google Maps)

During a Sunday service at the school in May, in front of dozens of people, Ye angrily told Phillips he was fired over an apparent issue with a garden at the school, according to the suit.

When a tearful Phillips told Ye that his daughter attended Donda and that he was grateful for the job because of a potentially serious medical condition, Ye allegedly responded with an expletive-laden “tantrum” in which the musician disparaged Phillips and his child, according to the suit.

Ye then allegedly told Phillips: “I was going to punch you in the face.”

Phillips, who was hired in November 2022 to work on a “vertical integrated crew” for the musician’s clothing brand, continued to work for the rapper until August, when Donda shut down, according to the suit.

Tuesday’s complaint, filed by attorney Carney Shegerian, seeks more than $35,000 in damages and alleges discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and other claims.

Phillips’ allegations add to a troubled and bizarre portrait of Donda, where former employees have said that students were allowed to eat only sushi for lunch, windows were empty because Ye didn’t like glass, and chairs, artwork and outside books were banned.

The accusations are included in previous lawsuits from three former teachers and an ex-assistant principal who allege discrimination and wrongful termination.

One of the lawsuits has also named Donda's predecessor, Yeezy Christian Academy. A trial in one of the suits is scheduled to begin in April 2025.

A lawyer for the rapper has previously dismissed claims about Donda, saying the former employees' descriptions of the school as a “dystopian institution designed to satisfy Ye’s idiosyncrasies” were false.

“None of it is true and the allegations do a disservice to the Donda Academy’s current staff and students and their parents who will attest to their positive experience,” the lawyer said in a 2023 filing.