Justin Timberlake is being sued for $9.6 million (GBP6 million) by his former tour manager - who has accused the singer of racial abuse.

IBRAHIM DUARTE claims Justin - along with other members of his former band 'N Sync - told him and other black employees, "You ni**ers ain't worth s**t".

The irate employee fumes, "After four years of building them into one of the hottest bands in the world, they treated me less than human. The popularity and money went to their heads and their true feelings about having a black front man became apparent.

"I endured their constant racial slurs, jokes and belittling comments to make it work. But they just threw me to the curb like yesterday's trash."

Band member Lance Bass allegedly insisted Duarte travel in a separate tour bus because he was ashamed of having a black tour manager, and Jc Chasez would shout, "You black guys always f**k up".

When DARRIN HENSON, the group's black choreographer, collected an award, the band called him "the dark member of 'N SYNC".

Duarte also claims black sound engineer DALE RAMSEY had to endure jokes about his complexion, and security guard KENNETH HUNTER was teased "in a racially offensive manner" - before both were dismissed.

The aggrieved tour manager claims he was sacked after the group's NO STRINGS ATTACHED tour in 2000 because 'N SYNC were ashamed of having a black "front man" - and was replaced by a white man with "significantly less experience".

Duarte adds, "In my 25 years in this industry, I've never been treated like this by any other artist."

14/12/2003 10:41