Troubles don’t seem to cease for Adam Neumann, former CEO of WeWork as, despite the company and its chief investor, SoftBank recently ousted him by paying him off with a whopping $ 1.7 billion, company’s former Chief of Staff Medina Bardhi filed a complaint against him accusing him of paying female employees lesser than male employees. Bardhi filed her petition with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Thursday in which she mentioned that Neumann allegedly retaliated against her for taking pregnancy leaves resulting in pay disparity and demotion.

She also condemned the company for rewarding Neumann with over one billion dollars while it subjected her to “repeated and systematic marginalization, lesser pay than their male colleagues, and retaliation for having the courage to raise legitimate complaints of gender and pregnancy discrimination,” said her counsel Douglas Wigdor of Wigdor LLP to Gizmodo in a statement.

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“Our hope is that this class action complaint will send a loud and clear message to WeWork and other start-ups that pregnant women cannot be forced out of their jobs, that women must be paid fairly and afforded equal opportunities, and that you cannot retaliate against any person who voices a complaint of discrimination.”

She claims in the lawsuit that during the time she was getting interviewed for the job by Neumann in 2013, he “unlawfully and intrusively” asked her “when she was going to get married and become pregnant.” Then in 2016 when she did get pregnant, she has to forcefully announce it to him earlier than desired to evade business travel with Neumann as he was reportedly fond of smoking weed on jets. He also informed other employees of her pregnancy without her consent. During a conversation with the HR and Bardhi, Neumann also commented, “I hope you’re going to have fun on your vacation while we’re here working.”

The lawsuit further elaborates on pay disparity by adding that when Bardhi was on pregnancy leave, WeWork hired a male chief of staff in her place who was promised $400,000 with a $175,000 signing bonus while for the same job role, Bardhi was paid $150,000, claims the complaint. During the second time she was pregnant, Neumann against replaced her with a man and reduced her role. Despite Bardhi repeatedly raised concerns over gender discrimination and gender pay disparity at the workplace but in vain. She was laid off after Neumann was ousted last month.

The lawsuit further elaborates on pay disparity by adding that when Bardhi was on pregnancy leave, WeWork hired a male chief of staff in her place who was promised $400,000 with a $175,000 signing bonus while for the same job role, Bardhi was paid $150,000,

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The complaint broadens Bardhi’s own experience to bring in other female staffers who were subject to widespread discrimination and pay disparity in comparison with male employees for the same work.

In response to Bardhi’s allegations, WeWork released a statement which said, “WeWork intends to vigorously defend itself against this claim. We have zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We are committed to moving the company forward and building a company and culture that our employees can be proud of.”

Picture credit: Financial Times

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