Donald Trump’s go-to lawyer in New Jersey, Alina Habba, has quietly settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee who framed her as a racist and callous boss – someone who drops the n-word while blowing up rap at the office and who allegedly referred to the New York Attorney General as “that black bitch”.
It’s unclear how much Habba paid to settle the case, if at all. The deal is shrouded in secrecy and both parties — including, oddly enough, the former employee’s attorney — are bound by a non-disparagement agreement that prohibits anyone from smearing the other, according to a person familiar with the agreement.
According to this source, audio tapes recorded secretly inside Habba’s office appear to have played a role in pursuing the lawsuit in out-of-court negotiations. Habba’s company never even filed a response to the original lawsuit in court.
On September 6, lawyers for Habba and his aggrieved ex-secretary signed a document agreeing to dismiss the case “with prejudice,” meaning the trial is definitely over. They formally filed it in Middlesex County Superior Court last week.
Habba did not respond to calls for comment. Jacqueline L. Tillmann, the former secretary’s lawyer at Princeton, confirmed that the case was closed.
“We have reached a resolutionbut I can’t comment on the specifics,” Tillmann said, repeatedly emphasizing the word “resolution.”
Habba runs a small law firm in suburban Jersey, a short drive from Trump’s National Golf Club Bedminster. She quickly rose from obscurity to become the former president’s lead attorney in several cases garnering national attention while posing as his aggressive lawyer on right-wing television.
Habba was behind Trump’s conspiracy-laden lawsuit against former political rival Hillary Clinton (who was just thrown out), is set to defend him in an upcoming trial over how his men of corporate security hand beat protesters outside Trump Tower, and is currently battling New York AG’s corporate fraud investigation.
Like so many Trump lawyers, Habba became a possible witness in a brewing scandal involving the former president. In her role in the New York AG case, she personally swore in court papers that she conducted a “diligent” search of relevant business records by searching through “all desks, drawers, nightstands, dressers, closets , etc.” at Mar-a-Lago on May 5 — an awkward moment that could make her a witness in the FBI’s landmark criminal investigation into Trump for mishandling classified records that were found last month at those same offices, storage drawers and cupboards.
That means his law firm is sitting on a mountain of what could be damning evidence, which has made his former employee’s trial this summer all the more intriguing.
His legal secretary, Na’syia Drayton, resigned in frustration on Trump’s birthday and filed a lawsuit a few weeks later on July 19. putting her in a particularly damaging position.
In her lawsuit, Drayton, who is black, accused Habba of frequently playing “gangster rap and inappropriate hip hop music in the office…singing and repeatedly using the racial slur n—-“, and at one point given during a staff lunch at a restaurant loudly suggesting that she order fried chicken because “you like fried chicken”. The lawsuit also claimed that Habba got fed up with the constant legal battles against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is black, and shouted, “I hate that black female dog!”
“Habba began parading around the office fuming at the judge and complaining that she had lost her argument,” the lawsuit read. “Drayton was appalled by the racist remarks made about Attorney General Letitia James and felt surprised that her supervisor, [Habba]felt comfortable and entitled to make such statements in the workplace, in his presence.
The lawsuit goes on to describe how Drayton allegedly began having panic attacks, causing her to isolate herself from the few colleagues she had in the office, including Habba and her law firm partner, Michael Madaio. The lawsuit also claimed that Habba noticed and called Drayton into his office, where the boss wondered if the secretary was still a “good fit” for the office, to which Drayton responded by accusing the whole thing of being just too uncomfortably cold in the office.
It wasn’t until weeks later that Drayton finally emailed her bosses, revealing the racial animosity that had bothered her so much at the office. The day after Habba struck a deal with New York investigators to have Trump testify before the GA — when tensions were already running high — the lawyer suddenly received an email from her own secretary titled “Environment Uncomfortable Workplace,” which outlined several instances where Drayton said she felt “extremely uncomfortable.”
“I have been deeply touched by these comments and feel disrespected and unwelcome at work. I feel increasingly anxious and fear that my health will be affected,” Drayton wrote. bringing this to your attention, we can restore a productive work environment.”
According to the lawsuit, Habba immediately phoned Drayton and a heated discussion ensued. The complaint quotes Habba denying being racist and saying, “I’m a fucking minority myself…I’m not white.” I was being bullied because I’m Arab… everyone listens to Kanye West, and I’m not allowed to?
Immediately after the lawsuit was filed, Habba adamantly denied ever yelling about the New York AG run and released a statement portraying Drayton as a disgruntled employee who was simply seeking an expensive payout.
“Na’Syia is someone we love and care about for years. Na’Syia had never made a single complaint to anyone until she decided to quit and demand an exorbitant amount of money in return,” Habba said then.
At the time, Drayton’s lawyer acknowledged that she tried to settle the matter quickly quietly, but Habba’s law firm did not budge. She said Drayton was unemployed, had a family to support, and would have preferred the financial stability of a monetary settlement without having to sue.
“We tried, but we couldn’t come to an agreement. I think it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come up with something. It’s my policy to try to work things out,” Drayton said in July.
On Friday, Tillmann said she couldn’t even tell if Drayton felt like she came out on top. Reached by phone, Drayton declined to comment.