A former SoulCycle CEO has accused the company of discrimination, claiming she was downgraded after announcing her pregnancy, before being fired 32 days after giving birth.
Jordan Kafenbaum, the former senior director of instructor programming and talent management filed a lawsuit against SoulCycle interim CEO Sunder Reddy and former human resources officer Adrienne Gemperle, in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.
Kafenbaum, who was responsible for overseeing nearly 400 employees, says she was fired on April 27 – four weeks after her maternity leave – after the company claimed it would eliminate her position due to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Kafenbaum has accused her former employer of it ‘blatant pregnancy discrimination and retaliation’, claiming she was slowly pushed out of her role after complaining about a senior executive making ‘disparaging’ comments about her pregnancy to other staff.
A former SoulCycle manager (stock photo) has accused the fitness company of ‘pregnancy discrimination’ and claims she was fired 32 days after giving birth
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in a New York district court, Jordan Kafenbaum claimed she was fired on April 27 – four weeks after her maternity leave – after the company said it would liquidate her position due to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic .
She also claims she was promised a promotion last year before revealing she was expecting a child.
The new role was later assigned to a male executive, who, according to court documents, would report to her earlier this month.
Importantly, SoulCycle made such plans for Mrs. Kafenbaum before it knew Mrs. Kafenbaum was pregnant. Everything changed when that happened, ‘the lawsuit states.
According to the complaint, Kafenbaum had told senior Soul Cycle managers, including Gemperle, that she was pregnant in September 2019.
She claims that Gemperle later shared the news in a “conniving” announcement at a corporate conference in Miami, attended by more than 100 employees.
During a presentation on the newly implemented fathers leave policy at SoulCycle, Gemperle reportedly told the staff, “ Jordan Kafenbaum’s mom actually just called me to thank me for changing our policy because when we did that did…. Jordan finally got pregnant! ‘
The lawsuit alleges that Kafenbaum was “ ashamed and shocked that details of her personal life were revealed in such a disparaging way.
The comment, she claims, suggested that she had “ only calculated the timing of her pregnancy after knowing she would be entitled to 12 weeks of paid time off. ”
Kafenbaum later confronted Gemperle, who reportedly told her she had only repeated a “ joke ” she’d heard from another employee.
Former SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan (pictured) resigned from her position last year
After their conversation, the lawsuit alleges: Kafenbaum ‘immediately noticed’ a tangible shift in the way Gemperle treated her ‘.
Kafenbaum says she was reportedly barred from decisions within her role from then on, before finally being told in February that the company wanted to “ find another place for her. ”
Kafenbaum claims company executives suggested that a ‘better fit’ for her was in a role to sell business bookings.
Despite these roles being unrelated to her role as SDTM and no doubt lower, minor [the company] did not provide a rational justification for what was clearly an intended demotion, ”the lawsuit states.
Kafenbaum gave birth to her child on March 25, and was informed on April 27 that she was being released.
According to the complaint, the company has offered several “inconsistent excuses” for its termination, including: reorganization of the department; performance concerns; elimination of positions; and “finally a horrifying global pandemic.”
In her lawsuit, Kafenbaum also accuses the company of following a pattern of laying off female workers after they become pregnant.
In a statement to Business Insider, a SoulCycle spokesperson said: “SoulCycle offers paid parental leave for all full-time employees.
‘Mrs. Kafenbaum was unfortunately fired as part of a necessary restructuring due to the impact of COVID-19. She was paid full maternity leave and was offered severance pay. ‘
DailyMail.com has contacted SoulCycle for comment.