A domestic worker has filed a lawsuit against R&B singer and actor Brandy Norwood claiming that the former child star violated her civil rights and unlawfully terminated her employment. The chart-topper denies any wrongdoing, claiming the woman was never a full-time staffer in her home, but an “independent contractor.”
In March of 2022, a month after being relieved of her duties in the Norwood estate, Maria Elizabeth Castaneda, 60, alleged the popular singer executed a wrongful dismissal and violated the California state labor laws by firing her for being an older person. The complaint was originally filed with California Fair Employment and Housing and later submitted as a civil lawsuit obtained by Finurah.
The woman is suing for $250,000 in damages, including anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress. For the wrongful termination claim due to her age, she is asking the court to award her $97,500.
She also wants, as per the complaint, the additional $250 that the artist owes her.
In the complaint, Castaneda contends that the “Sitting Up In My Room” singer failed to compensate her two last days of working in her Calabasas mansion and that she was discriminated against because the 43-year-old wanted a younger person to do the job.
Court documents accuse the former “Moesha” star of being a cruel employer, and not providing meals for her while she was employed.
The lawsuit states, “As a general rule, Plaintiff was not permitted to take an uninterrupted 10-minute rest break in the morning and an uninterrupted 10-minute rest break in the afternoon, nor was Plaintiff permitted to take an uninterrupted 30-minute meal period break for every 5 hours worked, or a second uninterrupted 30 minute meal period break for every 10 hours worked.”
Castaneda also alleges in the lawsuit, that over her tenure as a housekeeper for Norwood, the singer “failed to provide Plaintiff with itemized wage statements that properly and accurately itemized the number of hours Plaintiff worked at the effective regular pay rates and the effective overtime pay rates.”
This becomes a driving point in the complaint, as the woman contends that Norwood “knowingly and intentionally failed” to give her these statements and stopped her from accurately calculating how much she earned in a year for tax purposes.
The housekeeper, who has worked for Norwood for almost 20 years, is seeking a quarter of a million in damages and lost wages for a job. Before her termination, Castaneda earned $125 a day, she claims.
The lawsuit that while that was her day rate, it was well below minimum wage, which is required by the State of California.
Norwood, whose estimated net worth is $12 million, has been performing, producing, and songwriting since she was a young teenager, releasing her debut album “Brandy” in 1994, eight years before hiring Castaneda. Over her career, she has sold over 10.5 million records and is one of the top-selling artists in the United States’ history.
Norwood’s attorney said their client has rejected all allegations leveraged against her, saying, “[Brandy denies] all claims and damages. [Maria] was never an employee and she decided to cease performing services,” according to Radar Online.
The lawsuit describes the nature of her work relationship as an “independent contractor.”
This is the second lawsuit filed against Norwood in 2022. In January, she was sued by Elle B. Mambetov for allegedly not returning a borrowed ring she had planned to wear at the American Music Awards. Also named as a defendant is Asley Sean, a stylist for the celebrity. In this case, the singer again rejects the validity of the claim.
Castaneda’s trial is expected to last five days, but an official date has yet to be secured.