📖 Your Q2 Earnings Guide: Discover the Stocks ProPicks AI Highlights to Jump Post-EarningsRead more

WeWork, former CEO Adam Neumann accused of pregnancy discrimination

Published 10/31/2019, 11:03 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: WeWork offices in San Francisco

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chief of staff to ousted WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has accused him and the company of discrimination, saying she feared for the health of her unborn baby because of Neumann's penchant for smoking marijuana on chartered planes.

She also said she was replaced by a man making more than twice her salary when she took maternity leave.

In a complaint filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Medina Bardhi said she began suffering discrimination soon after telling Neumann that she was pregnant with her first child in 2016.

She said in the complaint that she had been hesitant to tell him early in her pregnancy, but was forced to do so because of his smoking marijuana on the flights, potentially exposing her unborn child to secondhand smoke.

Bardhi said she was fired about six months after giving birth to her second child and just weeks after raising concerns about discrimination in connection with her pregnancy and maternity leave.

"WeWork intends to vigorously defend itself against this claim," the company said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind."

Medina's complaint, filed on behalf of a proposed class of other female employees, also names Jennifer Berrent, who was WeWork's chief legal officer, saying she referred to Bardhi's first pregnancy as a "problem" that needed to be "fixed."

Neumann also referred to Bardhi's upcoming maternity leave as a "vacation," the complaint said.

Bardhi said that when she returned from maternity leave, she was not given her old job back for several months.

The pattern repeated itself when she became pregnant in 2018, had a child and took maternity leave again, according to Bardhi's complaint. She was fired on Oct. 2, about a week after Neumann stepped down as WeWork's chief executive, and was told that her role had been eliminated, according to the complaint.

WeWork is already facing other complaints of discrimination, including a lawsuit by a former senior vice president, Lisa Bridges, who says the company tried to force her out when she presented evidence that it compensated men better than women.

Neumann agreed to resign as CEO and give up majority voting control of the company in September after SoftBank Group Corp and other shareholders turned on him over a plunge in the company's estimated valuation ahead of a planned initial public offering.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: WeWork offices in San Francisco

(This version refiles to fix spelling of Neumann in first sentence)

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.