A former chief of staff to WeWork’s co-founder and former CEO Adam Neumann has filed a complaint that she experienced pregnancy discrimination at the company.
Medina Bardhi claimed that she experienced pregnancy discrimination during her stay with WeWork as chief of staff to co-founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) Adam Neumann.
Bardhi alleges that the discrimination started as early as her interview for the job in 2013 when Neumann asked her if “she was going to get married and become pregnant.” In March 2016, she became pregnant for the first time and she claims that she was “forced” to tell her boss she was expecting early on because Neumann had a “penchant for bringing marijuana on chartered flights and smoking it throughout the flight while in the enclosed cabin.”
In the complaint, she said she “could not expose her unborn child” to Neumann’s habit. It has been previously reported that Neumann uses marijuana while on planes.
Bardhi also alleges that prior to taking her maternity leave, Neumann and Jennifer Berrent, a longtime WeWork executive who currently serves as chief legal officer, gave multiple troubling comments about her pregnancy. She claims that Neuman described her maternity leave as “retirement” and “vacation,” while Berrent allegedly referred to her pregnancy as a “problem” that had “to be fixed.”
Meanwhile, a WeWork spokesperson 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.”
Bardhi also mentioned in the complaint that prior to her first maternity leave, Neumann and Berrent hired a man to the chief of staff role, paying him a salary of $400,000 with a $175,000 signing bonus while she was paid a salary of $150,000 for the same job.