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Explained: Why Kim Kardashian’s staff members are accusing her of violating California labour laws

In their 21-page lawsuit, seven former staff members accused Kim Kardashian West of making them work in excess of five-ten hours a day without giving them breaks.

By: Explained Desk | Panaji |
Updated: May 28, 2021 7:45:48 am
Kim Kardashian West (AP Photo/File)

Former members of American reality television star and businesswoman Kim Kardashian West’s domestic staff have accused her of violating California labour laws by not paying them enough or giving them breaks while they were working at her Los Angeles mansion.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, Kardashian West’s former staff members accused her of withholding 10 per cent of their pay for taxes, while not furnishing the amount to tax authorities. They also alleged that she failed to pay them for working overtime, did not permit them to take breaks for meals, and violated child labour laws by making “underage minors” work on her property for long hours.

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A spokesperson for Kardashian West denied the allegations, stating that she could not be held responsible since the employees were hired through an unnamed third-party “vendor”.

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Who filed the lawsuit against Kim Kardashian West?

The lawsuit was filed by seven former employees who had worked full-time as domestic staff in Kardashian West’s mansion in Hidden Hills, Los Angeles. Andrew Ramirez; his brother, Christopher Ramirez, and son Andrew Ramirez Jr.; Aron Cabrea; Rene Ernesto Flores; Jesse Fernandez and Robert Araiza, were all hired to work as gardeners and maintenance staff.

What were their allegations against Kardashian West?

In their 21-page lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles attorney Frank Kim, the seven former staff members accused the reality television star of making them work in excess of five-ten hours a day without giving them breaks of at least “half-hour meal periods in which they were relieved of all duties.”

“Plaintiffs never received any paystubs, were not paid on regular pay periods, were not given their required meal and rest breaks, were not provided a means to record all their hours, were not paid all their hours, were not reimbursed for employment expenses, were not paid all their overtime wages, and were not paid their wages upon termination of employment,” a copy of the lawsuit, obtained by NBC News, read.

They further alleged that they were made to work overtime with no extra pay, and a 16-year-old employee was made to work beyond the weekly 48-hours as mandated by state child labour laws.

One plaintiff, Andrew Ramirez, claimed that he was fired soon after he raised some of these issues with the management. The same attorney is also representing the plaintiffs in a similar suit against American hip hop artist Kanye West, from whom Kim Kardashian filed for divorce in February, this year.

“Wage theft and other workplace violations are a widespread problem in Los Angeles. My firm is currently investigating other potential violations against these defendants, as well as other powerful families and businesses on behalf of everyday workers,” their attorney, Frank Kim, said in a statement.

What do California labour laws say about breaks and wages?

Under California’s meal break law, all employees working for more than five hours are entitled to a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break. Employers must also give their staff a duty-free paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for every four hours they work. Bosses who don’t comply with these laws are required to pay an extra hour of regular pay for each day an employee was denied a meal or rest break.

Meanwhile, as far as hiring teenagers for work is concerned, under California labour law, those employing teens are required to pay them a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour. When school is in session, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds can only work four hours per day on school days and eight hours on weekends and holidays, for a total of not more than 48 hours each week.

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How has Kardashian West responded to the allegations?

A spokesperson for the reality TV star has said that the disgruntled staff members were hired and paid through a “third party vendor” . “Kim is not party to the agreement made between the vendor and their workers, therefore she is not responsible for how the vendor manages their business and the agreements they have made directly with their staff.”

According to the spokesperson, Kim herself had not paid any vendor for their services.

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