Market Overview

Former WeWork CEO Accused Of Gender, Pregnancy Discrimination

Former WeWork CEO Accused Of Gender, Pregnancy Discrimination

Adam Neumann may have stepped down from WeWork’s board, but his past actions continue to haunt the co-working space company recently taken over by SoftBank.

What Happened

Medina Bardhi, former Chief of Staff at WeWork, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York on Thursday, the New York Times reports.

Bardhi alleged that Neumann routinely discriminated against her when she became pregnant. The former WeWork CEO referred to her maternity leave as “vacation” and “retirement,” the complaint alleged.

Bardhi further stated that she was demoted both times she became pregnant during her five years at WeWork.

WeWork’s entire work culture is marked by casual sexism and prejudice against women, according to the compalint. 

Bardhi was fired from the company in October, shortly after Neumann’s departure, the Times reported.

The company’s executives told her that there was no role for her after the controversial CEO’s departure, she said. 

“This assertion and supposed justification rings hollow, as Ms. Bardhi already had been pushed out of Mr. Neumann’s office,” according to the complaint.

“It is clear that Ms. Bardhi’s firing was motivated by the company’s sustained discriminatory bias and retaliatory animus against her and other female employees who become pregnant, take maternity leave, and/or complain about gender-based discrimination.”

What's Next

Bardhi’s lawyer Douglas Wigdor hopes the E.E.O.C. recognizes a systematic abuse of women at WeWork and brings class-action charges against the company, he told the Times.

WeWork said it intends to “vigorously defend itself” against Bardhi’s complaint.

"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,” said Gwen Rocco, WeWork’s vice president for corporate communications. 


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