As Kanye West’s legal battles continue, his former partner Gap was recently named in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of the Yeezy brand, Radar Online reports. And Gap wants no parts of the lawsuit; the company says only West is liable.
Radar reports that court documents show Gap is denying its involvement in all allegations listed in the lawsuit by the plaintiff, Maya Stewart.
Stewart, who reportedly was an “accessories developer” who designed samples, filed a lawsuit against Yeezy apparel and Gap in April accusing Gap and Yeezy of whistleblower retaliation, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination and failure to pay overtime. Stewart argued that she was wrongfully terminated after complaining about her pay and the right to work breaks.
The apparel company claims that it was not Stewart’s employer and was improperly included as a defendant in the lawsuit. Additionally, Gap claims that Stewart’s claimed grievances were a result of her own actions. Stewart is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.
Gap is demanding that all claims against it be dismissed, with Stewart paying the company’s legal fees. In addition, the company says if the court upholds Stewart’s claims in the lawsuit, West’s company should be held liable for any and all damages.
A Partnership Gone Awry
Yeezy and Gap entered a clothing partnership in June 2020. For West, it was symbolic of his long-standing desire to lock arms with the company — he’d worked at the apparel company and rapped about it on the “College Dropout” album.
The partnership was a 10-year agreement that included West being able to gain up to 8.5 million shares of Gap’s common stock, allowing him to gain equity if the brand reached specific sales goals. The agreement was considered unlike anything achieved by a celebrity — as most would only receive a salary for designing a line of clothing.
Gap expected as a partner to earn more than $1 billion in annual sales from a Yeezy Gap line that was to include men’s, women’s and children’s wear.
However, in September 2022 the partnership came to an end. West terminated the agreement, citing breach of contract. And it seemed the feeling was mutual with Gap executives.
“While we share a vision of bringing high-quality, trend-forward, utilitarian design to all people through unique omni experiences with Yeezy Gap, how we work together to deliver this vision is not aligned,” the Gap brand president, Mark Breitbard, wrote in a press statement included in a New York Times report. “And we are deciding to wind down the partnership.”
Other Complaints Against the Yeezy Brand
Stewart’s lawsuit against Yeezy sheds light on brewing accusations at the brand. In 2021, former employee Taliah Leslie filed a lawsuit against West arguing that he violated California labor law.
In an article published in Rolling Stone, ex-employees shared accounts of mistreatment of employees and contractors. With complaints ranging from being in a “cult-like atmosphere” to long workdays, infrequent payments, and wrongful terminations, Yeezy was rife with dissension.
“Nothing has ever compared to the amount of chaos, the amount of stress and [the amount of] anxiety you go through working for Yeezy,” an Adidas x Yeezy senior team member told Rolling Stone.