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Madonna files defense in charity legal battle

WENN, Monday, April 25, 2011, 8:11am (PDT)

Madonna's lawyers have filed court papers in Malawi defending the pop star's dismissal of a number of employees from her charity, blaming the decision on "genuine economic reasons."

The singer is facing legal action from a number of former staff members who were let go from her Raising Malawi organization following the collapse of plans to build a girls' school in the African nation.

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The $15 million education project was abandoned earlier this year amid allegations of financial mismanagement, prompting Madonna to dissolve the foundation's board of directors.

Former employees of the charity filed an official complaint at Malawi's Industrial Relations Court in Blantyre, accusing the star of unfair dismissal, and Madonna's legal team has now responded to the allegations.

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The singer's legal papers state, "There is nothing unfair about the termination of the applicants' employment since termination of employment was necessitated by genuine economic reasons ... [The decision not to go ahead with the school was made] after carefully reviewing its [the charity's] financial commitments and future plans and was made in good faith ... [We] had tried to act reasonably and expediently to avoid frustrating the former workers."

Madonna's legal response also addresses the group's allegations that staff were forced to sign a termination agreement they deemed "unfair and unconstitutional," adding, "[It was] simply a confidentiality agreement."

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The case will be heard in court on April 27.

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