MoMA PS1 Settles With Curator Who Said Giving Birth Cost Her Job Offer


A curator who accused MoMA PS 1 of gender, pregnancy and caregiver discrimination has settled the claim she brought against the museum saying it had rescinded a job offer upon learning she had recently given birth.

Nikki Columbus, who is also an art editor, filed the claim in July 2018 with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The settlement, made public by the law firm that represented Ms. Columbus, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, includes financial compensation for Ms. Columbus as well an agreement by the contemporary art museum in Queens to update its written policies designed to protect women, working parents and other caregivers who apply for jobs or work there.

“What happened to me was wrong and clearly against the law,” Ms. Columbus said in a statement on Tuesday. “I decided to speak out in order to protect other women at MoMA PS1 and beyond.”

The financial terms were not disclosed, but Ms. Columbus said in an interview that she made it a point that her agreement not bar her from discussing other details of the case.

“That was really central to me, that I could talk about the importance of the suit,” she said.

Ms. Columbus said she has not been able to find full-time work since the PS1 offer, to be the museum’s associate curator of performance, was withdrawn.

Elizabeth S. Saylor, one of Ms. Columbus’s lawyers, said in a statement, “We hope that more people will follow Ms. Columbus’s lead and take advantage of the robust protections that NYC law provides.” Ms. Saylor is also co-chairwoman of the board of A Better Balance, a nonprofit that focuses on improving work-life balance conditions, and was co-counsel on the claim.

Her claim named MoMA PS1 and its chief curator Peter Eleey, chief operating officer Jose A. Ortiz and then-director Klaus Biesenbach.

“MoMA PS1 at all times has been compliant with the law and remains committed to supporting women and caregivers,” a museum spokeswoman said Tuesday. “We are satisfied with the agreement and are happy to put this matter behind us.”

MoMA PS1 has not named a performance curator; its performance program is overseen by two assistant curators. Mr. Biesenbach is now director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.



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