Earlier this month, a video of the Shah yelling at her clothing designer, Koa Johnson, was leaked on Instagram. In the video, Shah can be heard cursing at Johnson and another staff member, yelling, “F***ing handle it. F***ing don’t have a f***ing attitude with me.”
Now, Johnson is speaking out. During a recent interview with Page Six, the star’s former clothing designer broke his silence about the alleged abuse he suffered while working for Shah.
“It was a very, very stressful time,” Johnson told Page Six about working for Shah. “I wasn’t sleeping. I was not taking care of myself physically and mentally, but I was still operating on adrenaline. It was like the most traumatizing months of my life.”
Johnson explained to the publication that he had designed much of what the star wore while on the show, including her reunion dress and cast photo dress. “I really felt like she was a sister and I was her brother kind of situation,” the designer explained, noting that they are both Polynesian. “We came from the same blood, the same race.”
The Designer Claims That Jen Shah Did Not Pay Him for His Work
During the interview with Page Six, Johnson also alleged that Shah did not pay him properly for his work. Johnson claimed that the last time he was given a paycheck was in September 2020, even though he still worked for her until January 2021. The designer explained that he hit a breaking point after Shah neglected to acknowledge who she was wearing during the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion. Johnson quit shortly after.
“I’m watching everybody go around saying who they’re wearing,” Johnson told Page Six. “and Heather said me and then when it went to Jen, I was expecting her to say the same thing and say my name and she didn’t and that hurt me.”
Johnson continued, “That hurt me so much because it was the last dress that I was going to do for her for Season 1.”
Koa Johnson Wants Jen Shah to Take Responsibility
In the end, Johnson explained that he just wants to see Shah take some responsibility for her actions. “I have to speak my truth and hope that if there’s anybody else that is working in a hostile work environment, that they will come out and speak out about it,” Johnson told Page Six.
Johnson continued, “I know that’s been a problem during her Season 1 is not taking any responsibility or whatever because I was there for the witness. I really do wish her the best of luck for Season 2 — she’s going to need it.”
And, it looks like Johnson is not the only one begging Shah to have some accountability. Many fans seem to be on the designer’s side. “If her employee messed up she can hold them accountable without verbal/emotional abuse,” one user wrote in response to the leaked video on Twitter. “For example not giving them the next assignment or letting them go from the job. It’s unacceptable for employers to treat people like this.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City has reportedly begun filming for Season 2.