4 Real-Life Stories Reveal How You Could Be Your Employees’ Worst Nightmare

Nate Hindman

It wasn’t easy to compile this list. Incidents of workplace sexism aren’t exactly out in the open.

Most get swept under the rug, settled out of court, or buried at the bottom of some comment board online, written anonymously because the victim is too fearful of retribution to truly come forward with their story.

In the spirit of encouraging an open dialogue about gender issues, and working towards a workplace where women can speak out against sexist remarks without losing their job or suffering a demotion, here are 4 women who stood up to sexist bosses:

1. Whitney Wolfe (Tinder)

At one point, Whitney Wolfe, a former Vice President at Tinder, a mobile dating app, was touted as Tinder’s “inventor” and co-founder. She allegedly named the app and was credited with it gaining widespread popularity among young Millennial women.

But, according to a lawsuit Wolfe eventually filed against the company in 2014, Justin Mateen, who joined Tinder after Wolfe as its chief marketing officer, stripped Wolfe of her co-founder title because, as Mateen put it, having a young female co-founder “makes the company seem like a joke” and “devalues” the startup.

Following months of harassment by Mateen, Wolfe finally spoke up and sued Tinder alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

2. Leigh Castergine (The Mets)

Leigh Castergine, the former Vice President of tickets sales at the Mets, sued the baseball team earlier this year, saying she was wrongfully fired after accusing the team owner’s son of insulting and humiliating her because of her pregnancy.

Jeffrey Wilpon, the team owner’s son and the Mets’ chief operating officer, allegedly condemned Castergine in company meetings for not being married while pregnant. And in private, Wilpon told Castergine that “something had changed” after the birth of her child and that she was no longer as “aggressive” as she used to be.
When Castergine complained to HR, she was fired, leading to her lawsuit against the team.

3. NFL Cheerleaders

In 2014, cheerleaders from teams across the NFL, filed lawsuits against their respective teams alleging mistreatment and unpaid wages.

The allegations and evidence in the lawsuits revealed that many cheerleaders are only paid a few dollars per hour for games and are not paid at all for mandatory practice sessions.

The real money is made during special appearances, which often subject cheerleaders to humiliating situations. For instance, at an annual golf tournament hosted by the Buffalo Bills, cheerleaders are allegedly “auctioned off” and expected to ride around in a golf cart during the event — sometimes in the laps of the winning bidders.

Once a few cheerleaders stepped forward and sued their teams, several more cheerleaders followed suit earlier this year, leading to five such lawsuits against NFL teams in 2014 alone.

4. Cristina Chen-Oster & Shanna Orlich (Goldman Sachs)

Cristina Chen-Oster, a former Goldman Sachs vice president, and Shanna Orlich, a former associate, sued the firm for discrimination in 2010, claiming Goldman not only compensated women 21 percent less than male employees, but also kept women from moving up in the company.

Earlier this year, Chen-Oster and Orlich announced they’re seeking class-action status on behalf of thousands of women who have been mistreated while working at Goldman.

Among the allegations of discrimination and harassment are stories of demotions during pregnancies, consistently low performance reviews for female employees and business excursions to strip clubs. Chen-Oster, for her part, revealed that she was sexually harassed by a married male coworker after a Goldman-sponsored dinner.

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