Published January 10, 2013
Has Justin Bieber turned violent?
A former bodyguard for The Biebs sued the pop superstar Thursday seeking more than $420,000 in overtime and other wages and claims he was repeatedly struck by the singer during an October confrontation.
Moshe Benabou's lawsuit claims Bieber berated him and repeatedly punched him in the chest after a disagreement about how to handle a member of the Grammy-nominated singer's entourage. After he walked away, Bieber fired him, Benabou's lawsuit claims.
Benabou claims he was mistakenly told that he wasn't entitled to receive overtime despite working 14 to 18 hour days between March 2011 and October 2012.
An email message sent to Bieber's publicist was not immediately returned.
Benabou is seeking unspecified damages on the assault and battery claims and $421,261 in unpaid overtime, vacation and other wage benefits.
"For nearly two years Mr. Benabou devoted himself completely to ensuring Mr. Bieber's personal safety," Benabou's attorney, Ilan Heimanson, wrote in a statement. "Mr. Benabou deserved, as does any employee, to be treated with respect, dignity and in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, he was not. "
It hasn't been the best week for Bieber. Over the weekend, TMZ released photos in which he appeared to be smoking marijuana, sending the media and his fans into a frenzy.
The "Baby" singer has yet to respond to the photos, but he tweeted that he is still "growing and learning," adding: "I never want to let any of you down".
Following the photo incident, prankster website 4Chan got the phrase #CutForBieber trending on Twitter when users posted photos that appeared to show "fans" cutting themselves because Bieber had allegedly smoked marijuana.
The singer also has yet to comment on the prank.
Bieber's album "Believe" ranked No. 6 in 2012 sales with more than 1.3 million units sold.
In October Los Angeles prosecutors declined to file charges against Bieber after finding insufficient evidence that he punched and kicked a photographer outside a movie theater near his home in Calabasas, Calif., a month earlier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.