Kobe Bryant and his wife denied allegations Wednesday by their former housekeeper, who is claiming harassment, verbal abuse and a bizarre story involving dog feces.
"We have learned that a former employee of the Bryants, Maria Jimenez, has filed a complaint against our clients. Ms. Jimenez's outrageous allegations of improper conduct are totally unfounded and patently false. The Bryants intend to vigorously defend against these untruthful allegations and are confident that the baseless nature of the allegations will be proven," according to a statement from Bryant's attorney at Loeb & Loeb LLP.
Jimenez, 48, filed the lawsuit Friday in Orange County Superior Court, seeking unspecified general, punitive and special damages, said her attorney, William K. Vogeler.
According to the lawsuit, Jimenez worked at the Bryants' home in Newport Coast, Calif., six days a week, for 10 to 12 hours a day, from September 2007 to March 22, 2008, handling a variety of tasks that included housecleaning, laundry and cleaning up after the couple's children.
After only two weeks on the job, Vanessa Bryant began a pattern of verbally abusing, demeaning, badgering and humiliating Jimenez by yelling, screaming and criticizing her in front of Kobe Bryant, the children and other employees, the lawsuit alleges.
Terms of employment included a salary of $50,000 a year and medical insurance for herself and her family, according to Jimenez. But when she needed surgery for an ovarian cyst, she found out she had no medical coverage and she had to pay $120,000, as well as more than $7,000 in medical bills and physical therapy for hurting her back in a fall, according to her court papers.
Jimenez claims that when she told the basketball star that she wanted to quit, he persuaded her to stay, and his wife apologized. But she alleges the pattern of abuse picked up again, with insults and accusations of theft.
The maid said the final straw occurred when Vanessa screamed at her for putting an expensive blouse in the clothes washer and then demanded that she put her hand in a bag of dog feces to retrieve the price tag for the garment.
Jimenez refused, saying she was quitting on the spot, but was forced to work until payday to pay for the $690 blouse, according to her lawsuit.
When Jimenez tried to collect unemployment, the Bryants, through attorney Jon Daryanani, opposed it and the claim was initially denied until Jimenez appealed and the decision was reversed, Vogeler said.
The administrative decision was appealed, but affirmed again, Vogeler said.
Jimenez's claims include wrongful discharge, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and unpaid overtime wages.
According to the lawsuit, the Bryant home's extensive security measures allowed Vanessa Bryant to watch Jimenez, and on one occasion, she accused Jimenez of stealing a blouse that Jimenez said she brought from her home to change into.
The lawsuit alleges Vanessa Bryant "seriously invaded" Jimenez's privacy by watching her on video cameras when Jimenez believed she had a reasonable expectation of privacy to change her own blouse.
To view the complaint, click here (PDF).