Two former employees claim that Equinox made them miss out on career opportunities and eventually forced them to quit because they became mothers, according to a new lawsuit.
National Account Executive Alison Sadel, 32, and Senior Regional Sales Manager Megan DiDomenico, 34, were discriminated against and passed over for promotions because they were moms, claims a new Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
While Equinox projects an image of “female empowerment” instead the company “regularly expresses hostility towards would-be moms and moms and communicates the message that you cannot be both a mom and successful at Equinox,” the suit alleges.
Sadel, a Brooklyn woman who worked at the company since 2011, claims she was discriminated against during her pregnancy, passed over for a promotion for a position that went to a man and was pushed into having less responsibility and pay after returning from maternity leave, the court documents say.
Sadel was subjected to discriminatory comments while she was pregnant including from one director who said, “what is with all the Account Executives getting pregnant,” the court papers says.
She was also forced to work extra long days in order to train her substitute before she went on maternity leave. And her supervisor who was allegedly inconsiderate throughout her pregnancy at one point asked Sadel “why she was ‘so insecure and overly sensitive’ — a stereotype about pregnant women,” the suit says.
When Sadel was 8 1/2 months pregnant she was scolded for wearing sneakers to work despite a condition that made her feet swell, the court papers say.
After Equinox allegedly mishandled Sadel’s discrimination complaints she was forced to quit in December, the court filings say.
Megan DiDomenico, who started at the company in 2015, says she first felt the discrimination when another employee “told management that it was unacceptable for her to pump [breast milk] in the office” after she recently returned from maternity leave, the court papers say.
Then in the years to come, she interviewed to be promoted to a director position but was passed over twice by women who weren’t mothers, the suit alleges. One of those women told her not to be bitter for not getting promoted saying she should “focus on [her] family,” the court documents claim.
DiDomenico, of Boca Raton, Florida, then asked for a transfer to Florida where she would have help raising her kids, but the company wouldn’t accommodate her working remotely while they let another male employee do so, the court papers allege.
She eventually got transferred to Florida but was essentially given a demotion with a glorified title, papers allege. But one of her bosses told her the position would be hard for her because she was a mom and added, “her new position would only ‘work’ if she was okay not seeing her children,” the suit says.
DiDomenico was also forced to quit after her complaints of discrimination were not taken seriously, the court papers say.
A lawyer for the women, Douglas Lipsky, told The Post, “When the company learns you are pregnant or a mom, it pulls the chord on your treadmill.”
Equinox did not immediately return requests for comment.
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