Beauty mogul James Charles is being sued by a former employee, Kelly Rocklein, his previous creative director, who alleges that the YouTube star would make unreasonable requests (such as asking her to shave him), unfairly dismissed her and didn't pay her for copious amounts of overtime.
Speaking to Business Insider about the lawsuit, Rocklein said she was seeking compensation from Charles for wrongful termination, disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, and failure to pay minimum wage for overtime hours worked.
Rocklein alleges that although she asked for a six-figure salary with benefits, she was instead offered no benefits and $5,000 a month ($60,000 a year), with the opportunity for a bonus if she proved herself. "[They said] 'We're not going to give you any benefits, but if you work really hard, we'll give you an annual bonus that will get you there.'"
She added that her role had little boundaries. "Imagine having to go over and essentially pick James up out of bed, tell him to brush his teeth, tell him, 'OK, what do you want to eat? OK, someone is coming to do your laundry. OK, I'm going to get your laundry, I guess. OK, time to start filming — you don't want to film — well, we both know you have to. So please let's think about it,'" Rocklein told Business Insider.
She also said that Charles once asked for help with shaving his bottom, ahead of wearing a revealing outfit for Coachella, something Rocklein says made her feel "extremely uncomfortable."
She was later given a raise to $6,000 (something later confirmed in a video by Charles), but says she'd regularly work 80 hours a week, and that the new wage didn't account for her additional hours. "It was sketchy," Rocklein said. "Now, with career experience, I know that people will take advantage of you. But at the time, I was like, 'OK, well, I trust them.'"
Rocklein continued on to remark, "He was making monstrous money at 18 years old, and I literally couldn't even afford to pay my full rent. I shared a room with a friend in downtown LA. Everything I was doing with him, I was just in this losing financial game, like, 'I've got to keep working. I've got to keep working. My bank account just bounced.'"
In her lawsuit, Rocklein is also claiming that Charles terminated her contract after she was medically signed off work. She says despite texting her being seemingly supportive, he later called and asked for a face-to-face meeting and "callously informed her that she was being terminated due to poor performance."
Charles has denied the allegations in a video shared on Twitter on 11 May, branding them "absolutely ridiculous, absurd, untrue, defamatory, just the craziest things you could ever imagine".
He added, "My team is like family to me. I love them all so much, and you guys know a lot of them from being in the back of my YouTube videos... I stand behind the fact that they are very, very well taken care of."
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