According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, new mother Barbara Delo was elated last year when she was invited to join the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Delo, 32, is a costume designer, and the chance to join one of the most highly regarded dance troupes in NYC was a dream come true. However, her experience with the dance troupe was everything but a dream.
According to the Federal complaint, as a new mother, Delo felt discriminated against from day one at the company. The company did not offer her a private space for pumping breast milk (New York state law requires this accommodation). When her daughter came along on tours, the executive director informed her uncertainly that she was not welcome.
One year after joining the troupe, her employment was terminated. Delo believes she was wrongfully dismissed and forced to work in a hostile environment that left her emotionally and physically distressed.
She contends that the company made her feel “so bad and so worthless” and that she could not perform her job duties more accurately because she was a mother.
The lawsuit describes many instances where working mothers are discriminated against within the dance industry. Discrimination based on family status and specifically against mothers has become widespread, with many women reporting they are pressured to delay pregnancy in favor of pursuing their careers. Professional dancers tend to have short working careers and are pressured to maximize that time by avoiding motherhood.
Delo is the latest in many women accusing the dance troupe of discrimination. In May, Stacey Jo-Marine filed a verbal harassment claim. The former production manager felt she was forced out of her position due to her gender.
Paul Taylor Dance Company denied Marine’s accusations and stated she did mention gender discrimination concerns while employed there. Delo also details these complaints in her lawsuit to point to a pattern and practice of discrimination and retaliation.
In her lawsuit, Delo states that she first started to experience issues in the workplace in September of 2021, shortly after she started the job. She said she was reprimanded for bringing her daughter to a meeting at a Washington company and told that children were not allowed in the workspace.
However, Delo’s husband, whom the company also employed, brought their daughter to the office frequently and did not receive criticism.
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Women often face discrimination in the workplace simply because of their gender. At Risman & Risman, we help women discriminated against in the workplace get justice against employers that break the law. Contact us today if you suspect you have been the victim of gender discrimination.