LOS ANGELES – Brandy Norwood has agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former housekeeper to the singer who alleged age discrimination and other claims, the plaintiff’s lawyers state in new court papers.
In court papers filed Friday seeking up to nearly $90,000 in attorneys’ fees, plaintiff Maria Elizabeth Castaneda attorneys from the Lipeles Law Group state that they took the woman’s case knowing that the legal battle ahead would match their boutique firm against a large firm that represents celebrities.
“To that end, through fiercely litigating the issue, Lipeles Law Group was able to secure a $40,000 settlement for our client within six months of filing the complaint,” Castaneda’s lawyers state in their court papers.
Lipeles Law Group had to interview potential witnesses and obtain statements, take discovery, schedule and prepare for depositions and conduct an investigation into Norwood and her corporate affiliates, Castaneda’s lawyers state in their court papers explaining their request for $87,445 in attorneys’ fees.
“This does not include any of the time that our attorneys spent dealing with journalists who wanted a story,” the plaintiff’s attorneys further state in their court papers.
In the alternative, Castaneda’s attorneys seek either $48,580 or $38,390 in attorneys’ fees, plus $805 in costs, depending on two other rates the court can consider.
Castaneda, also known as Elizabeth Juarez, was hired by Norwood in September 2002 and her responsibilities included cooking, cleaning, and doing the laundry at a daily rate of $125, according to the plaintiff’s suit filed March 25. She was wrongfully fired on Feb. 25 because she was older than 60 and the singer did not want an older employee, according to the suit, which further alleged Castaneda was owed money for her last two days of work.
In their court papers, Norwood’s attorneys maintained Castaneda’s age discrimination and failure to prevent discrimination claims were not viable under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act because the singer did not regularly employ five or more employees during the time the plaintiff worked for her. They say she voluntarily quit and was an independent contractor.
Norwood’s lawyers also maintained Castaneda’s claim for wrongful termination should have been dismissed because it was tied to the discrimination allegations.
Norwood, 43, served as a judge on the first season of “America’s Got Talent.” She had a brief relationship in 1996 with Kobe Bryant before he became a Laker.
A hearing on Castaneda’s attorneys’ fees motion is scheduled Dec. 8 before Judge Theresa M. Traber.