An aspiring musician who signed a recording contract with Jason Derulo has filed a sexual harassment complaint against the star, alleging that he ended their working relationship after she denied his sexual advances.
Emaza Gibson, 25, filed her complaint against Derulo, 34, on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that the “Whatcha Say” singer “maliciously” promised her success, then denied said opportunity.
“Mr. Derulo’s behaviour toward this young artist was despicable,” Gibson’s attorney, Ron Zambrano, said in a statement. “He not only broke promises and breached contracts, but his threats of physical harm and unconscionable sexual advances toward this young woman who is just trying to break into the industry were outrageous and illegal.”
In a statement shared on behalf of the singer, a rep for Derulo denied the allegations put forth in the complaint.
“These claims are completely false and hurtful,” the statement read. “I stand against all forms of harassment and remain committed to supporting people chasing their dreams. I strive to live my life in a positively-impacting way, so I am deeply offended by these defamatory allegations.”
In the complaint — which also names Atlantic Records, Derulo’s label Future History Inc., and his manager Frank Harris — Gibson claims Derulo first reached out to her in August 2021, saying he was planning to take on a joint venture between Atlantic and Future History, but needed to bring Atlantic a new artist in order to do so.
The suit also names Radio Corporation of America DBA “RCA Records,” though Radio Corporation of America is a defunct electronics company that’s a separate entity from Sony Music’s RCA Records, which does not appear to have a current contractual relationship with Derulo or Future History.
Gibson says she “eagerly” accepted the offer to work together, and entered agreements with Derulo, Atlantic and Future History, with the plan being that she’d deliver a mixtape to Atlantic within four months and an album within six, plus a single that featured Derulo.
She says she considered Derulo a “mentor [and] supervisor” — but was taken aback when she was told that in order to succeed in the industry, she had to take part in “goat skin and fish scales,” a reference to sex rituals and cocaine, according to the complaint.
“The manner and timing of such a statement meant that Derulo was demanding sexual acts from [Gibson] in order for Derulo to fulfill his role as her mentor, supervisor and musical collaborator,” the complaint claims. “This explicit demand for sex-in-exchange-for-success was reinforced through Derulo’s subsequent behaviour.”
In an interview, Gibson said she had to search online what “goat skin” meant and was “trying to find and make sense of what it was” when she came across articles indicating it involved sex, goat sacrifices and blood.
In the complaint, Gibson says she and Derulo texted regularly to schedule recording sessions and meetings, and that he repeatedly invited her to drinks and dinner. Gibson says she did not want to meet with the star outside of a professional setting, and asked instead to meet in the recording studio, at which point she claims Derulo asked if she’d have a drink with him in the studio.
She alleges he’d “constantly” pressure her to drink with him during recording sessions, and she’d tell him that she wasn’t “a drinker,” prompting him to “assure” her he’d call her an Uber home.
Gibson claims that in September 2021, during a late-night recording session, Derulo again asked her to have a drink with him, and she “reluctantly” obliged, though she felt the drink was too strong and allegedly told him so.
“After this session, where [Gibson] declined to drink and have sex with Derulo, the offer to arrange for [Gibson] to get to and from Derulo’s studio ceased,” the complaint says.
The complaint also makes note of another incident from November 2021, during which Derulo and Gibson met with the presidents of Atlantic to discuss her career. Gibson claims Derulo invited another woman into the meeting at the last minute, as he allegedly hoped to have sex with her, and that he later grew angry with Gibson after she told him and Harris that she was “thrown off guard” by the woman’s presence in the meeting. She says that after the incident, her mother, who is also her manager, travelled with her to all future meetings with Derulo “out of concern for her own safety.”
Gibson says Derulo eventually stopped communicating with her, and was told in September 2022 that her employment with Atlantic and Future History had been terminated.
The complaint alleges Gibson required medical intervention for breakdowns, weight loss, insomnia, mood swings and more, and that she sought mental health treatment and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
She is suing for sexual harassment, breach of contract, illegal retaliatory termination and more.