Kobe Bryant's former housekeeper is suing the NBA star and his wife, contending she was "harassed and humiliated," denied health insurance and forced to quit because of "intolerable" working conditions.
In one instance, Maria Jimenez says Bryant's wife ordered her to put her hand in a container of dog waste to retrieve the price tag of a blouse.
Jimenez filed suit on Friday in Orange County Superior Court. She says in court papers that Vanessa Bryant "badgered, harassed and humiliated" her in front of Bryant, the couple's children and others. She said the couple failed to provide health coverage, as promised when she was hired. She said she didn't learn she didn't have it until she became ill and sought medical attention. The action seeks unspecified general, punitive and special damages, as well as back pay and overtime Jimenez says she is owed. Rob Pelinka, agent for the Los Angeles Lakers star, did not immediately return a call.
Jimenez wasn't fired but her lawyer said she was wrongly discharged because Bryant's wife made it impossible for her to continue working at the couple's Orange County home. "She quit but because the working conditions were intolerable," attorney William Vogeler said on Wednesday. "We allege it was a violation of labor laws that protect people from working in unhealthy situations."
In court papers, Jimenez says she went to work for the Bryants in September 2007 and left in March 2008. Almost immediately upon starting work, "Vanessa began a continuing pattern of verbally abusing and demeaning her." Jimenez said she was called lazy, slow, dumb, a liar and was cursed and screamed at.
After Jimenez told Kobe Bryant she wanted to quit he talked her out of it and elicited an apology from his wife, court papers said. But then, she said, the abuse began again.
According to the papers, Vanessa Bryant screamed at Jimenez for putting an expensive blouse in the Bryants' clothes washer. "Then Vanessa demanded that Maria put her hand in a bag of dog feces to retrieve the price tag for the blouse."
Although she gave notice, Jimenez said, Vanessa Bryant demanded that she work until her next pay day to cover the $690 cost of the blouse. Jimenez said she did.