A young musician has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against singer Jason Derulo, who she claims signed her to a record deal then pressured her to have sex.
Emaza Gibson, who filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, said she was fired after declining to have sex with the 34-year-old R&B singer.
Gibson, 25, told NBC News she did not know the record deal would have strings attached when she agreed to sign with Derulo in 2021.
“I have anxiety; I’m traumatized,” Gibson told the outlet.
Gibson has accused Derulo of quid pro quo sexual harassment, a type of harassment that sees an authority figure leverage their power to make sexual demands or advances toward an employee.
The lawsuit also accuses Derulo and his label, Atlantic Records, of retaliation, breach of contract, a failure to remedy workplace harassment and violation of California’s civil rights act.
Derulo and Atlantic Records have not commented publicly on the lawsuit.
In the legal filing, Gibson said Derulo contacted her in 2021 as part of a joint venture between his music imprint, Future History, and Atlantic Records. Gibson, an aspiring musician, had long since been posting music and viral dance videos online in the hopes of launching her singing career, often under the stage name Emaza Dilan.
Derulo was allegedly aware of Gibson’s online presence and invited her to sign a record deal that would see her produce a mixtape within four months of inking the contract. Under the terms, Gibson was also intended to create an album six months after signing the deal.
NBC News reported Gibson’s contract, filed as part of the lawsuit, claimed she would be able to record a single featuring Derulo. Given Derulo’s international fame, Gibson saw the record deal as a launchpad for her career.
The pair allegedly recorded music together to present label executives at Atlantic.
During their working relationship, Gibson claimed the Whatcha Say singer often invited her to dine and drink alcohol, which she declined. She said she also declined numerous sexual advances from Derulo, which she argued caused her to be dropped from her record deal altogether.
During a session in September 2021, Gibson claimed Derulo brought alcohol into the recording studio. She said the singer gave her “inappropriately large amounts of alcohol,” which she felt pressured to drink.
Later, in November 2021, Gibson said she confronted Derulo and said she was unwilling to compromise her personal morals for a career in the entertainment industry. In her lawsuit, Gibson alleged Derulo told her she may have to take part in “goat skin and fish scales,” which she understood as drugs and sex.
The lawsuit claims Derulo’s “goat skin and fish scales” reference is an “explicit demand for sex-in-exchange-for-success.”
On a separate occasion in November 2021, Gibson alleged Derulo became “aggressive” and hit furniture when she spoke about his relationship with another woman. In the lawsuit, Gibson said she was told Derulo and the other woman, identified in the lawsuit only as Rosa, were having sex.
Gibson told NBC she believed the other woman, who was also recording music, was gaining career success because she was having sex with Derulo.
Gibson eventually signed a record deal with Atlantic but said it was stalled when Derulo failed to assign her a project manager or answer her messages.
When traffic caused her to be late to a recording session with Derulo in June 2022, Gibson said he again became aggressive and caused her to fear for her personal safety. She claimed Derulo charged at her and shouted until he realized he was invading Gibson’s personal space and had raised his voice.
Gibson was later dropped from both Atlantic and Future History on Sept. 6, 2022. The lawsuit alleges Gibson and her mother tried to report Derulo’s behaviour to Atlantic, but never received response.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
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