Trump lawyer loudly sang and rapped aloud with 'offensive booming music,' bias suit says
A legal assistant has filed a lawsuit alleging that a lawyer for former President Donald Trump loudly sang along with songs in the workplace that had racially derogatory and sexually explicit lyrics, making the plaintiff feel “shocked, embarrassed and humiliated.”
The lawyer, Alina Habba, also used derogatory language to refer to New York Attorney General Letitia James, according to the July 19 suit, filed by legal assistant Na’Syia Drayton. James’ office is conducting a civil probe of the Trump Organization’s valuation of assets.
Habba allegedly shouted, “I hate that Black b- - - -” after an unsuccessful argument against James’ office.
The suit also names as defendants the Bedminister, New Jersey, law firm Habba Madaio & Associates and firm lawyer Michael Madaio.
Drayton was the law firm’s only Black employee, according to the suit. Habba and Madaio “particularly enjoy listening to, and rapping along with, what is generally perceived and classified as gangster and hip-hop music, to energize, motivate and otherwise ‘pump themselves up’ prior to making court appearances,” the suit says.
The music repeatedly used the N-word and its variations, inferred sexual objectification of women, and used explicit, highly sexualized language, according to the suit.
As time progressed, Drayton “felt as though the offensive booming music went on endlessly,” the suit says.
By way of example, songs played in the office Jan. 26 included “Ruff Ryders Anthem” by rapper DMX, “N- - - -s in Paris” by rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z, “Rich As F- - -” by rapper Lil Wayne and “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne. In some songs, the N-word was used so many times that Drayton was unable to keep count, the suit says.
Drayton says she felt “completely disregarded and disrespected” and felt “as though she were invisible.”
Drayton says she began to have panic attacks and reduced her in-person, social interactions at work. In May, Habba told Drayton that she had noticed the change in her demeanor, questioned whether she was a good fit, and offered to bring Drayton to court and assign Drayton to cases that she might find more interesting.
Drayton was too fearful to share why she had become withdrawn and said instead she stayed in her office because it was warmer than in other parts of the office. Drayton finally shared the real reason for her withdrawal in a June email to Habba and Madaio.
Her email talked about the music, the reference to James and a comment that Habba once made to Drayton at a staff lunch. Habba allegedly recommended that Drayton order the fried chicken because “you people like fried chicken.”
In the conversation that followed the email, Habba “skirted responsibility” and criticized Drayton as combative, hypersensitive and ungrateful, the suit says. Habba allegedly said she couldn’t be racist because “I am a f- - -ing minority myself,” and, “I love all people.” Habba said she used to be bulled because of her Arab ancestry.
Habba allegedly shouted, “I love hip hop—always have, always will. … I’m taking serious offense to this, frankly.”
At the end of the conversation, Drayton was allegedly told that the “ball was in her court.” Drayton resigned June 14.
The suit alleges harassment and discrimination on the basis of race and gender in violation of New Jersey law, constructive discharge, retaliation, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Habba gave this statement to the Daily Beast: “Na’Syia is someone we love and care about and have for years. Na’Syia had never made a single complaint to anyone until she had decided to quit and ask for an exorbitant amount of money in return. I am disappointed by this lawsuit and the allegations, which are simply not true.”