Donald Trump’s favorite New Jersey defense lawyer, Alina Habba, was sued Tuesday by a Black former legal assistant who claims she was tormented by her boss loudly and repeatedly singing the N-word while listening to rap.
And the lawsuit alleges that Habba earlier this year lost her cool when she suffered a legal defeat to New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is Black—angrily shouting, “I hate that Black bitch!”
A tipster alerted The Daily Beast to the lawsuit Wednesday evening, and we confirmed that the lawsuit was filed in New Jersey’s Middlesex County.
Reached Thursday morning, Habba sounded hurt and disappointed.
“Na’Syia is someone we love and care about and have for years. Na’Syia had never made a single complaint to anyone until she had decided to quit and ask for an exorbitant amount of money in return. I am disappointed by this lawsuit and the allegations which are simply not true,” she said.
Habba, a young and attractive lawyer with a fearsome TV personality and aggressive courtroom personality, has become the go-to defense attorney for Trump in several lawsuits targeting him and his family company. According to several sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, fellow lawyers representing Trump don’t get along with her caustic approach.
Habba has fiercely attacked New York’s AG, who is currently investigating the Trump Organization for bank and insurance fraud in a years-long probe that appears to be approaching a conclusion. And she is expected to represent the ex-president and his company at a trial next week that seeks to prove Trump personally directed his security guards to attack protesters outside his corporate headquarters in Manhattan.
According to the lawsuit, Na’syia Drayton was a legal assistant and the only African-American employee at Habba Madaio & Associates, a small firm in Bedminster, the same town that’s home to the Trump National Golf Club. Her name appears in unrelated New York court documents as a person associated with Habba’s firm.
Reached late Wednesday night, Drayton declined to speak about the lawsuit and deferred questions to her Princeton attorney, Jacqueline Tillmann.
“My client is a young, soft-spoken woman, not political. She’s 27. She was a legal secretary and trying to keep her job, trying to support her family,” Tillmann told The Daily Beast. “I do think it's unfortunate that we couldn't arrive at some agreement. It's my policy to try to settle things.”
According to the lawsuit, Drayton started working with Habba at her previous firm and was let go during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Habba left and started her own law firm, she hired Drayton as a legal assistant. The lawsuit alleges that Habba and her new firm partner, Michael Madaio, would regularly blast hip-hop music and sing along to raunchy lyrics that allegedly made Drayton deeply uncomfortable.
The lawsuit claims that on Jan. 26, Habba and Madaio “played, and loudly sung, several songs in the office with sexually explicit lyrics” that Drayton felt were “both racially offensive and sexually inappropriate within the office setting.” Drayton alleges Habba and Madaio cranked up DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” Kanye West and Jay Z’s “N----s in Paris,” and “Rich As Fuck” by Lil Wayne.
Every time Habba said the N-word, Drayton claimed, she “felt demeaned and violated.” Songs “that portrayed women as objects of male sexual gratification” made her feel “humiliated, embarrassed and uncomfortable in the office,” the lawsuit reads.
Drayton claims she started having panic attacks at work after Habba lost a court battle in Manhattan in April, when Justice Arthur F. Engoron punished Trump for refusing to turn over evidence by forcing him to pay a $10,000 daily fine that eventually added up to $110,000. After a ruling, Drayton alleges, Habba emerged “irate” from her office and yelling, “I hate that Black bitch!”
An exhibit attached to the lawsuit shows Drayton sent her bosses an email on June 9 titled, “Workplace environment feeling uncomfortable.” In it, the legal assistant wrote that the songs, Habba’s alleged statement about the New York attorney general, and other interactions made her uncomfortable.
“Saying these things was difficult. It took a lot of courage to do this. No one wants to be seen as a trouble maker,” 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.’”