Former curator sues Worcester Artwork Museum for racial discrimination

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Rachel Parikh alleges within the go well with that she was “mocked and ridiculed as a result of she is a brown-skinned girl of South Asian (Indian) descent.”

The Worcester Artwork Museum on Salisbury Avenue in Worcester, Mass., Thursday, Could 2, 2013. A former curator has sued the museum for subjecting her to racism, derision and criticism associated to her background as an individual of South Asian descent, the go well with says. Rachel Parikh, the previous affiliate curator of the humanities of Asia and the Islamic world on the museum, alleges within the go well with that she was “mocked and ridiculed as a result of she is a brown-skinned girl of South Asian (Indian) descent and subjected to a hostile and offensive work atmosphere and retaliation” throughout her employment from February 2020 till final September. (Rick Cinclair/Worcester Telegram & Gazette through AP)

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A former curator has sued a Massachusetts artwork museum for subjecting her to racism, derision and criticism associated to her background as an individual of South Asian descent, the go well with says.

Rachel Parikh, the previous affiliate curator of the humanities of Asia and the Islamic world on the Worcester Artwork Museum, alleges within the go well with that she was “mocked and ridiculed as a result of she is a brown-skinned girl of South Asian (Indian) descent and subjected to a hostile and offensive work atmosphere and retaliation” throughout her employment from February 2020 till final September.

The go well with filed final month in Worcester Superior Court docket additionally names as defendants museum director Matthias Waschek, director of curatorial affairs Claire Whitner, and 4 members of the chief committee.

It claims discrimination primarily based on gender and race. It seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The museum’s legal professional, David Felper, stated in a press release that the “grievance is stuffed with unsupported allegations and statements taken out of context.”

“We stay assured that the precise info and regulation will clearly present that there isn’t a advantage to the claims that had been filed,” he stated.

The go well with mentions a number of allegations of wrongdoing, together with at a brunch in November 2021 when the museum director and his husband repeatedly mimicked an Indian accent whereas speaking a few British tv present.

“These feedback had been unwelcome, offensive and the incident was humiliating and deeply disturbing,” the go well with stated.

On one other event in March 2022, when Parikh attended a cocktail party on the director’s house, he and his husband requested “very private and offensive questions” about her household and background that made her really feel “extraordinarily uncomfortable, offended and ‘othered,’ ” the go well with stated.

In a press release, Waschek referred to as the allegations “patently false.”

“I’ve labored exhausting during the last 30-plus years to construct a repute of professionalism and integrity,” he stated. “As a homosexual man who has skilled discrimination first-hand, I’ve all the time held DEAI points as a core worth, and have sought to do my finest to eradicate discrimination from the office and construct a tradition of inclusivity.”

Waschek’s husband doesn’t work on the museum and isn’t listed as a defendant.

In a single occasion in March 2021, after a presentation, the director of curatorial affairs informed Parikh that she wanted to put on make-up and jewellery to “appear to be a curator,” suggesting she was “unkempt and primitive,” in accordance with the go well with.

“Telling the one curator of colour at WAM that she must ‘appear to be a curator,’ has each sexist and racial connotations,” the go well with alleges, “particularly because the curatorial area is predominantly white.”

Waschek has a sample of discriminatory habits, each on the museum and at his earlier place on the Pulitzer Arts Basis, in accordance with the lawsuit.

The museum employed an outdoor agency to analyze Parikh’s allegations, and located that whereas they may not be verified, they had been credible.

In a press release, the museum stated it would deal with the particular claims made within the go well with in courtroom.

“Worcester Artwork Museum stays dedicated to offering a office the place everyone seems to be handled with dignity and respect, so we take these allegations very severely,” the assertion stated.


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