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A former legal assistant to a lawyer for former President Trump is suing her previous employers for harassment and discrimination.
Na’syia Drayton served as a legal assistant at law firm Habba Madaio & Associates from November 2021 to June, according to the lawsuit. Drayton filed the suit against the firm, partner Michael Madaio and managing partner Alina Habba, who has represented Trump in New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Drayton previously worked for Habba at a different law firm from 2017 to 2019, and Habba called Drayton around October 2021 to offer her a job at Habba’s new law firm. Despite reservations about working for Habba again, Drayton accepted the offer, in part because she was laid off amid the COVID-19 pandemic and needed a job, according to the lawsuit.
The court complaint states that the first few months working at the firm were “like a honeymoon” and Drayton frequently received positive feedback from supervisors. But that phase came to an end by January, when her supervisors allegedly began enjoying playing and singing songs with lyrics that were “highly sexually explicit and/or racially insensitive/derogatory.”
According to the lawsuit, Drayton did not necessarily have an issue with music being played in the office, but the songs Habba and Madaio listened to repeatedly used the N word, the “inferred sexual objectification” of women and “explicit, highly sexualized language.”
Drayton alleges that Habba and Madaio would listen to the songs to “pump themselves up” before court appearances and “aggressively” laugh while singing. On at least one occasion, they called out to Drayton to suggest one song was being played for her.
Drayton, whom the lawsuit states was the firm’s only African American employee, alleges that she increasingly struggled to continue her work.
The lawsuit also alleges that after Habba lost a matter she was arguing against James in or around April, she shouted, “I hate that Black bitch.”
Drayton gradually withdrew herself from social interactions and in-person work until Habba told her around May that she was beginning to think recruiting Drayton was a mistake because of her withdrawal. She said if she did not change her behavior, she would have to be let go.
Drayton did not immediately tell Habba what was bothering her out of fear, but eventually sent an email last month to Habba and Madaio to outline her concerns, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that they called Drayton soon after, with Habba defending herself and criticizing Drayton for being “combative, hyper-sensitive, and ungrateful.”
Habba allegedly said on the phone call that she could not be racist because she is an Arab, another minority.
Habba told Drayton that the “ball was in her court,” and Drayton decided to resign soon after, according to the lawsuit.
Drayton is suing to receive back pay, front pay, punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and other relief.
The Hill has reached out to Habba Madaio & Associates for comment.