Kanye West is being sued in two class-action lawsuits that could cost him $30 million.
He’s accused of allegedly mistreating and not paying nearly 1,000 performers and employees of his Sunday Service events.
Los Angeles employment lawyer Frank Kim filed one lawsuit on behalf of performers, totaling more than 500 people
A second lawsuit, which entertainment attorneys Harris & Ruble filed, focuses on crew and staff, roughly 300 people.
The attorneys for the crew members allege that the issue stems from Kanye West’s first opera Nebuchadnezzar, which was held at L.A.’s The Hollywood Bowl in November 2019.
Kanye West allegedly didn’t pay hundreds of workers such as hairstylists, makeup artists, and costume designers on time or at all. He also allegedly didn’t pay them overtime wages and failed to allow them to take meal breaks.
One hairstylist, Raina Leon, represents backstage employees in the lawsuit and alleged in court documents filed in July that it took 120 days for him to pay her the $550 he owed. And when he did, he allegedly charged her and other workers $20 to cash their checks. Michael Pearson represents the performers in the class action and says that he and others in his role worked for two days with no meal or rest breaks and were paid $550 despite whatever hours they worked. He added that some performers sat on the floor for the 10-hour days as there weren’t enough chairs. While a shuttle took them from their cars to the venue, a return shuttle wasn’t offered and performers had to walk back to their vehicles.
Lawyers are also looking for other alleged victims to join the lawsuits. One source said,
“They’ve got hundreds of people on board already, but they’re talking to many, many others, who want to be a part of it. People are very upset how they were treated, saying it’s their worst experience. People in the lawsuit are asking their friends who’ve worked on previous Sunday Services, and they’re jumping at the chance, they want to get involved and talk about their horrible time.”
Another insider added,
‘When you do things last minute, it’s disorganized, mistakes will happen. When Kanye West does a production, he just says to his guys: ‘Make it happen,’ he has different teams of people to do things, and when you’re under that amount of pressure, you cut corners. Anything with film or music production, they do the art first, it’s a case of ‘let’s get the production done and worry if it’s legal later.”
“I’m pretty sure Kanye West hasn’t done anything about paying a bill in 20 years, he’d expect people to take care of it. But Kanye can’t have this go to trial, as the jury may not be Kanye fans and just see a rich rapper ripping off normal folk, he can settle for much less or be hit with a $30 million legal bill.”
News of the class action comes after reports that Kanye West’s Sunday Service choir was suing him for $1 million in unpaid wages.
In November 2020, the 43-year-old rapper was accused of owing overtime funds for a team that was hired to work on his first Sunday Service event. The event was held at the Hollywood Bowl and was produced by Live Nation. Following the event, contract workers complained about not receiving their overtime pay. Reportedly, the show had taken weeks to organize and had several last-minute changes due to Kanye West and his demands. As a result, over a dozen employees reported that they were never paid for their services.