A black lawyer is suing WeWork for racial and sex discrimination for hiring her away from a lucrative job at Disney and then giving her a lower-paying role than she expected and passing her over for promotion, court papers say.
Ayesha Whyte says WeWork hired her in 2018 with the promise of a director position in New York City and a nearly $200,000 salary.
But after she relocated her family and kids, she was told she would be working in Washington, DC, in a different position — and for 20 percent less pay, according to a new Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
She was then passed over for promotions that went to less qualified white employees, and discovered white employees and men were paid more than she was, the lawsuit alleges.
One white man who was hired temporarily in the similar position as Whyte was “paid more than twice as much as plaintiff,” the court documents say.
Whyte said the culture of discrimination came from the top echelons of the company, with a co-president once saying to the diversity team that she “can’t empathize with black people,” the court papers claim.
She was eventually fired on false pretenses Oct. 27 in retaliation for her complaints about the discrimination, the court papers allege.
And when the company found out she planned to sue, it threatened to go after her for legal fees if she brought a case in court rather than in private arbitration, the lawsuit alleges.
“WeWork keeps people of color out of leadership positions and under compensated. At the same time, WeWork is all too happy to use images of these same people to promote its facade of real diversity,” the suit says.
A spokesperson at WeWork said, “At WeWork, we prioritize equal employment opportunity, including hiring, promotion and compensation, and believe these claims are wholly without merit.”