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A Better Balance, Emery Celli Resolve Discrimination Claims Against MoMA PS1; Settlement Includes Sweeping Policy Changes

A Better Balance, Emery Celli Resolve Discrimination Claims Against MoMA PS1; Settlement Includes Sweeping Policy Changes

The New York City Museum Will Adopt Written Policies on Caregiver Discrimination, Pregnancy Accommodations & Other Workplace Rights Based on A Better Balance’s Model Policies

Last July, A Better Balance, along with co-counsel Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (“ECBA”), filed a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights against MoMA PS1 after the museum rescinded a job offer to Nikki Columbus after learning that she had recently given birth. We are pleased to announce that Ms. Columbus successfully settled her claims of pregnancy, caregiver, and gender discrimination against the museum and its employees Peter Eleey and Jose Ortiz and former employee Klaus Biesenbach.

As a key component of the agreement, which will include monetary relief for Ms. Columbus, MoMA PS1 will distribute newly written or revised workplace policies on the following topics:

  • anti-discrimination protections for parents and other caregivers;
  • reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions, and disabilities;
  • nursing mothers’ right to express breast milk in the workplace;
  • sick leave, including “safe leave” to address needs related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and
  • family and medical leave and New York State Paid Family Leave.

The anti-discrimination policies will apply to both employees and job applicants. The policies are based on A Better Balance’s model language.

“We commend MoMA PS1’s new written policies surrounding pregnancy and caregiving, and the museum’s commitment to informing employees of their rights,” said A Better Balance Co-President Dina Bakst. “These sweeping policy changes will go a long way toward ensuring that pregnant workers and new mothers are not only afforded the full protection of the law but thrive in the workplace.”

“What happened to me was wrong and clearly against the law. I decided to speak out in order to protect other women at MoMA PS1 and beyond,” Ms. Columbus said. “Institutions are resistant to change unless they are pushed. I hope that this settlement will encourage more women to come forward publicly with their experiences of discrimination and harassment, with the knowledge that we have the power to fight back against misogyny in the art world and effect change.”

“We hope that more people will follow Ms. Columbus’ lead and take advantage of the robust protections that NYC law provides,” said Elizabeth S. Saylor, a partner at ECBA and co-chair of the board of A Better Balance.

For more information about the rights of pregnant and parenting workers, visit A Better Balance’s acclaimed state-by-state legal resource, Babygate, or The New York Working Woman’s Pocket Guide.

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