A producer has settled his lawsuit against a musical artist who is one half of the singing duo THEY in which the plaintiff alleged he was paid only $7 an hour, suffered disparate treatment because he is Asian and was denied credit for work on a Kasey Musgraves song.
Plaintiff Christopher Ahn’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit named as defendants singer Dante Jones, THEY LLC and Avant Garden LLC, a record label that is the group’s management company. Ahn’s attorneys filed a notice of settlement Monday with Judge Kristin Escalante, but no terms were divulged.
In his court papers, an attorney for Jones and the two companies denied any wrongdoing or liability on the part of his clients and stated that Ahn’s claims were barred in part or completely by the statute of limitations.
Ahn was hired in May 2018 when Jones asked him to come to a studio rented by Avant Garden, the suit states. Ahn performed many different jobs, including writing and recording songs, mixing and producing songs, buying equipment, arranging the recording studio, taking photos and videos, photoshopping pictures for THEY’s social media accounts, cleaning the recording studios and running errands, according to the suit brought in December 2021.
The plaintiff worked 60 to 70 hours weekly and was often required to be ready for any of Jones’ needs, the suit stated. Ahn allegedly worked about 5,050 hours from his hiring until his April 2021 firing and was paid $35,690, about $7 per hour.
The producer often worked 10-hour shifts and was rarely allowed to take timely meal breaks or rest periods, the suit stated.
Ahn suffered a severe headache, body aches and exhaustion in February 2021 from receiving a second coronavirus vaccine shot the day before, but he was not allowed to take the day off from a scheduled studio session, according to the suit. Jones told Ahn he “just needed caffeine to wake up,” the suit stated.
Ahn was subjected to regular harassment based on his ethnicity, including comments that Asians are weak, submissive and unmasculine as well as being called “soyboy” and “Asian boy,” the suit stated.
Jones, who is Black, allegedly said he resented Asians because of their success in the United States.
Ahn complained about his work conditions in late 2019 and agreements were reached regarding his concerns, but the conduct toward him did not materially change and Jones’ behavior toward the plaintiff became even more controlling, the suit stated.
Jones also made threats of violence toward Ahn, which alarmed the plaintiff so much that he installed security cameras at his home, the suit states. In retaliation for his complaints, Ahn was excluded from credit and compensation for a popular song he worked on for his employer and Musgraves, the suit alleged.
Ahn complained again about his working conditions in early 2021, but Jones denied any mistreatment, the suit stated.