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Former housekeeper sues Kobe Bryant, wife

Vanessa Bryant is accused of verbally harassing and humiliating the Peruvian immigrant, who has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.

March 26, 2009|My-Thuan Tran

A former housekeeper for Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is suing him and his wife, Vanessa, contending that she was verbally abused and humiliated while she worked at the couple's Newport Coast home.

Maria Jimenez, a 48-year-old immigrant originally from Peru, alleges Vanessa Bryant badgered and harassed her, and forced her to perform demeaning tasks. Jimenez filed the wrongful-termination lawsuit March 20 in Orange County Superior Court.

Jimenez worked 60 hours a week in the Bryants' home from September 2007 to March 2008, cleaning their house, washing their laundry and cleaning up after their children.

The suit alleges that Vanessa Bryant called Jimenez "lazy," "slow," "dumb," a "liar" and used profanity when addressing her.

On one occasion, the suit alleges, Vanessa Bryant screamed at Jimenez after one of the children came to her for comfort: "I don't want you to touch my baby. I hired you for housekeeping, not baby-sitting."

After Jimenez complained about her workload and not having breaks, the suit says Vanessa Bryant told her, "You haven't done anything."

The suit alleges that Vanessa Bryant humiliated Jimenez in front of Kobe Bryant, their children and other employees in the household.

Jimenez told Kobe Bryant that she wanted to quit because of his wife's conduct, but he persuaded her to stay on the job. Vanessa Bryant reportedly apologized to Jimenez, who continued to work for the couple for seven months. But she continued to yell at Jimenez, the suit alleges.

The suit alleges that Vanessa Bryant suggested that Jimenez had stolen clothes, a toy and even her retainer from the couple.

The Bryants denied the allegations in a statement from the law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP, which has offices in Los Angeles.

"Ms. Jimenez's outrageous allegations of improper conduct are totally unfounded and patently false," the statement said. "The Bryants intend to vigorously defend against these untruthful allegations and are confident that the baseless nature of the allegations will be proven."

Jimenez's lawyer, William Vogeler, said his client was wrongly discharged because she was working under "intolerable circumstances" that led to her leaving the job. Vogeler also said the Bryants did not provide Jimenez with health insurance.

The suit does not specify the amount that Jimenez is seeking in damages, but Jimenez said in the suit that she sustained damages of more than $20,000 in unpaid overtime.

Jimenez also alleges that Vanessa Bryant screamed at her for putting a $690 blouse in the washing machine, and demanded that Jimenez put her hand in a bag of dog feces to retrieve the price tag for the blouse. Jimenez refused and said she would quit, but Vanessa Bryant allegedly demanded that she pay for the blouse first, the suit states. Jimenez says she stayed on the job to work off the cost of the blouse.

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my-thuan.tran@latimes.com

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