LOS ANGELES (CN) – In a lawsuit filed Wednesday morning, R&B superstar Mariah Carey accused her former personal assistant of threatening to release secretly recorded videos if the singer didn’t pay $8 million and by the late afternoon that ex-assistant fired back with her own lawsuit claiming that Carey’s management team created a hostile work environment.
In her lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Carey said the extortion scheme began when she fired the ex-assistant in 2017.
Meanwhile, that same ex-assistant said she endured racist comments, physical abuse and an incident where someone urinated on her, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed shortly after Carey’s complaint.
Carey, 48, rose to fame in the 1990s for her blend of R&B, pop and soul music and is best known for her piercing five-octave vocal range. The self-proclaimed diva continues to record music, tour and perform and in 2015 she sought a personal assistant. Her management team hired Lianna Shaknazarian, also known as Lianna Azarian, to fill the role.
According to Carey, Azarian’s starting salary was $250,000. Carey says she bumped that figure to $327,000 because of Carey’s many demands and the long hours the job required. If Carey were the CEO of her brand then Azarian was like the vice president, according to the lawsuit.
As personal assistant, Azarian was allowed into Carey’s personal life and business affairs and she traveled with the singer in first class. But Carey says Azarian “turned out to be a grifter, a Peeping Tom(asina) and an extortionist.”
Carey says Azarian made personal purchases and pocketed any money from returns.
“Mariah is informed and believes that to this day Azarian retains a closet full of expensive clothing and handbags that belong to or were paid for by Mariah,” Carey says in her complaint.
Carey accuses Azarian of an invasion of privacy and a breach of a nondisclosure agreement. According to the lawsuit, Azarian discussed private information about Carey’s personal and business life and shared secretly recorded videos of Carey with co-workers and friends.
According to the complaint, Azarian told a co-worker that if she were ever fired as personal assistant she would cash in on the secret video recordings of Carey and buy a house.
When she was found out, Carey says Azarian did not apologize but instead threatened to release the videos and other personal information if she did not receive $8 million.
Carey describes the videos as “intimate” and “personally embarrassing.”
She also accuses Azarian of offering to store the singer’s furniture during a move and never returning the items.
Carey’s claims include breaches of the nondisclosure agreement and fiduciary duty, conversion, extortion and invasion of privacy. She seeks no less than $3 million, an injunction barring Azarian from releasing any videos and an order to destroy the footage. She also her stolen goods returned, according to the lawsuit.
Attachments to the lawsuit include an invoice of Azarian’s salary and the nondisclosure agreement.
In Azarian’s wrongful termination suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Azarian said Carey’s former manager, Stella Bulochnikov, was physically and verbally abusive and created a hostile work environment.
Bulochnikov made racist comments to Azarian based on her Armenian heritage on multiple occasions, according to the complaint and slapped Azarian on the butt and breasts. She claims she also was tackled to the ground by Bulochnikov, sat on and urinated on.
Racist comments made toward Azarian were done in front of Carey and other members of her management team, but no one stepped in to stop her, according to the complaint.
Azarian said she “suffered severe physical, mental and psychological pain and anguish” along with being hit by Carey.
Azarian said she complained to Carey in October 2017 and was fired the following month.
Azarian said she is owed $600,000 for purchases made on behalf of Carey and her management team, along with medical costs.
Meanwhile, Azarian said she retained legal representation from Freedman and Taitelman, a Los Angeles-based law firm, to represent her in a claim against a person identified in the complaint as “J.P.” and a settlement was reached.
But Azarian said the terms of the settlement included a non-disclosure agreement entered with Carey.
She calls that a fraudulent act, because when she was hired to work for Carey, she did so under a verbal contract. She names Carey, Bulochnikov, Mirage Entertainment, New Payroll Associates and multiple entertainment organizations as defendants. Azarian says she wants the NDA rescinded, damages for lost wages and medical costs, both for emotional and physical distress.
Azarian is represented by Mark Quigley from Greene Broillet & Wheeler.
Carey is represented by Bert Deixler from Kendall Brill & Kelly in Los Angeles.