A former high aide to WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann is accusing him and different executives of discriminating in opposition to her for turning into pregnant.
Medina Bardhi says in a federal criticism filed Thursday that she was demoted, derided for happening go away, and finally fired for elevating considerations.
Bardhi, who was Neumanns chief of employees till she was fired in October, is searching for class-action standing in opposition to New York-based WeWork, claiming a sample of discrimination in opposition to girls on the office-sharing firm.
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The criticism, filed with the Equal Employment Alternative Fee, describes a tradition at WeWork through which girls had been paid lower than males, demeaned for getting pregnant and subjected to sexually offensive conduct at alcohol-fueled firm occasions.
Our hope is that this class motion criticism will ship a loud and clear message to WeWork and different startups that pregnant girls can’t be pressured out of their jobs, that girls have to be paid pretty and afforded equal alternatives, mentioned Douglas Wigdor, Bardhis lawyer.
WeWork spokeswoman Gwen Rocco mentioned the corporate will vigorously defend itself in opposition to Bardhis declare.
We’ve zero tolerance for discrimination of any variety. We’re dedicated to transferring the corporate ahead and constructing an organization and tradition that our workers could be proud of, Rocco mentioned.
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The criticism raises a brand new problem for WeWork because it tries to regain the boldness of its workers, traders and clients within the wake of a failed try and enter the inventory market. Neumann stepped down as CEO on Sept. 24 and gave up his controlling shares of the corporate in a financing take care of Japanese conglomerate Softbank that saved WeWork from attainable chapter.
Bardhi mentioned the discriminatory habits started along with her first job interview at WeWork in 2013, when Neumann unlawfully and intrusively requested her if she deliberate to get married and change into pregnant. The criticism claimed that Neumann routinely requested that query of feminine job candidates.
When she turned pregnant in March 2016, Bardhi mentioned she waited solely a month to inform Neumann as a result of she felt she may now not accompany him on flights on personal jets the place he and different WeWork workers smoked marijuana.
She mentioned Neumann later made derogatory feedback about her in entrance of different WeWork workers, together with some who had been pregnant. At one level, Neumann informed her, I hope you’ll have enjoyable in your trip whereas had been right here working.
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The criticism cited one other high government, WeWork Chief Authorized Officer Jennifer Berrent, saying she additionally made derogatory feedback, repeatedly referring to Bardhis pregnancy as an issue that wanted to be mounted.
Bardhi claimed that Neumann informed her quickly after studying she was pregnant that he was seeking to change her as chief of employees and demote her to a different function. The criticism mentioned the function went to a person who was provided a wage greater than double what Bardhi had been incomes.
Bardhi was ultimately reinstalled as chief of employees. However she claims she confronted comparable issues when she turned pregnant once more in February 2018, getting sidelined and changed by a person who was underqualified for the job.
Regardless of by no means receiving readability about her function after getting back from go away, Neumann ultimately sought her assist with WeWorks impending preliminary public providing of inventory, in line with the criticism. At one level, in a automotive leaving a banks places of work, Neumann informed her in entrance of one other employee, I hope you loved your trip.
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Bardhi described elevating complaints with a number of officers, together with WeWorks basic counsel. She mentioned she was fired on Oct. 2 in a cellphone name after being informed there was no function for her following Neumanns departure.
Two different girls have filed lawsuits in opposition to WeWork in New York state. One employee, Lisa Bridges, mentioned she coordinated a research that discovered gender-based pay gaps on the firm, however when she introduced her findings, Berrent responded by saying that males take extra dangers than girls. One other, Ruby Anaya, alleged she was sexually assaulted by male workers at firm occasions.
© 2019 The Canadian Press
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