Of course, former President Donald Trump has a classless, insensitive, and racist defense attorney from New Jersey. Would we expect anything less? Now, said classless attorney is being sued by a Black woman legal assistant amid her boss’ offensive behavior.
The Daily Beast reports that a tipster informed the outlet of the lawsuit’s filing Wednesday in New Jersey’s Middlesex County.
According to the lawsuit, Alina Habba and Na’syia Drayton first worked together between 2017 and 2019, when Drayton worked as Habba’s legal assistant.
Drayton was let go due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But when Habba launched her own small firm in Bedminster, New Jersey, Habba Madaio & Associates, she rehired Drayton in October 2021. The suit reads that even though Drayton had her reservations about joining the firm, she “ultimately pushed aside her intuition and agreed” to work with Habba again. It would take a few months, but as it turned out, Drayton’s instincts were spot on. Habba and her partner were bad news.
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The suit reads that by January 2022, “the honeymoon phase” came “to an abrupt end” when Habba and her partner, Michael Madaio, began using the “derogatory, racist term ‘nigger’ while 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.”
Habba is white and Arabic, and Madaio is white. Drayton was the only Black employee at the firm. Drayton felt “shocked, embarrassed, and humiliated,” the suit reads, but she tried to ignore it and continue working.
Around April 2022, Habba argued a case in the New York Court of Appeals against the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, who is Black. In a three-year probe, James has been investigating Trump and the Trump Organization for insurance and bank fraud.
Habba lost the case and, the suit reads, she became “irate,” came out of her office, and “shouted, ‘I hate that Black bitch,’” referring to James.
Habba’s comments were overheard by Drayton, who “felt astonished that Habba felt comfortable and entitled to make such statements in the workplace in her presence,” according to the suit.
Drayton began to suffer panic attacks and began to close herself off from social interactions at work. Drayton was then called into Habba’s office, where she was told that if her “demeanor” didn’t change, she would be fired, the suit reads. Habba assumed that Drayton’s behavior was due to her lack of interest in certain cases.
According to the suit, on June 9, 2022, Drayton “summoned her courage” and wrote an email to Habba and Madaio “detailing her concerns.” The email included complaints that “she felt that the atmosphere at work had become hostile and unwelcoming to her as an African American woman.”
Drayton’s complaints included the rap music; Habba’s use of the N-word, Habba calling James a “Black bitch,” and an incident where Habba “loudly recommended” during a staff luncheon that Drayton order fried chicken because “you people like fried chicken.”
The suit reads that Habba became defensive about the email, saying that she couldn’t be racist because “I’m a fucking minority myself,” “I’m not white,” because “I love all people,” also “I’m not white. I used to be bullied because I am Arab.”
She added that the comments about James “were not meant for [Drayton],” and ended with the assertion that she could “listen to whatever music I want to listen to, and I’m not going to feel uncomfortable for that,” according to the suit.
“Saying these things was difficult. It took a lot of courage to do this. No one wants to be seen as a troublemaker,” Princeton attorney Jacqueline Tillmann told The Daily Beast late Wednesday night. “When the slight rises to this level, one remembers them. My client let a lot of things go. But when the Letitia James comment was made, then the music with supervisors singing those lyrics ... and singing n----, n----, n----, it doesn’t feel good as an employee.”
“It's not that my client feels that Ms. Habba doesn't have the right to be a Kanye fan or sing. It’s about the time and place. The office is not the place for this—particularly when an employee says, ‘This hurts me.’”
According to the suit, Drayton was ultimately forced to resign.
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