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Workplace discrimination suit alleges museum acted improperly

Having a child is a joyful experience for most Wisconsin parents. Unfortunately, treatment in the workplace can overshadow this joyful occasion for some women. An out-of-state mother claims that she was the victim of workplace discrimination when a potential employer rescinded an offer of employment upon learning that she had recently had a child.

Nikki Columbus served as Parkett's editor until the magazine stopped publication in 2017. Shortly before publication ceased, Columbus was approached by the chief curator at the museum MoMA PS1. The chief curator encouraged Columbus to apply for a job as the museum's performance curator, which she did. At the time of the interview she was five months pregnant, but did not disclose this information out of fear of backlash. During the interview, the chief curator allegedly referred to the person who had last filled that position, noting that she was not as present in her position once she gave birth.

Columbus passed several more interviews over the following months, and was finally offered the job with a start date of early Sept. 2017. She requested a part-time schedule for the first few weeks so that she could wrap up her Parkett duties, of which the chief curator initially seemed to approve. However, when she called to confirm this plan and to request that she initially work from home so that she could continue recovering from giving birth in July, the tone of things changed and the offer was yanked away days later.

She is now suing the museum, alleging both caregiver and gender discrimination. Her workplace discrimination suit points out that her qualifications did not change from the time they learned she had a child to when the offer was rescinded. In addition to financial damages, her suit also cites emotional trauma, which many victims of discrimination in Wisconsin also deal with.

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