California readers might remember that WeWork CEO Adam Neumann was ousted from his job in September after his failed attempt to take the company public. Now, he and the company are being sued for gender discrimination by a former employee.
According to court documents, Neumann’s former chief of staff claims she was paid less than male employees for doing the same work and was also subjected to pregnancy discrimination while employed at WeWork. She contends that Neumann asked inappropriate questions about her marriage and pregnancy plans when she interviewed for her job in 2013. She also says she was later “forced” to disclose her pregnancy to him because he regularly smoked marijuana around her on chartered business flights. She further alleges that he repeatedly referred to her upcoming maternity leave as a “vacation”. Finally, she accuses the company of paying the man who took over her job $400,000 with a $175,000 signing bonus, which was significantly more than the $150,000 she was paid for performing the same duties.
WeWork released a statement saying that it does not tolerate any form of workplace discrimination. It also said it intends to “vigorously” fight the plaintiff’s lawsuit in court. WeWork attempted to go public in August, but it faced fierce public backlash over its financial losses, corporate governance and IPO prospectus. As a result, Neumann left the company, earning a severance package worth $1.7 billion.
Federal and state laws protect employees from all forms of workplace discrimination. An employment attorney might be able obtain justice for employees who have been forced to endure gender or pregnancy discrimination while on the job. For example, after reviewing the case, legal counsel may recommend filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This action could result in a settlement for various damages, including back pay and benefits.