On August 11, 2020, Wigdor LLP filed a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against SoulCycle Inc. (“SoulCycle”) and its interim CEO and CFO Sunder Reddy and its former Chief People Officer Adrienne Gemperle.
The lawsuit alleges that SoulCycle unlawfully fired Jordan Kafenbaum, former Senior Director of Instructor Programming and Talent Management, just 32 days after she gave birth.
As set forth in the Complaint, Ms. Kafenbaum worked her way up the leadership ladder at SoulCycle for nearly seven years and was ultimately responsible for overseeing nearly 400 SoulCycle instructors. According to the lawsuit, contrary to feedback from superiors about her excellent work and continued upward trajectory, once news of her pregnancy hit, as alleged, she began to suffer severe discrimination at the hands of the company. The lawsuit recounts a disturbing incident in which Ms. Gemperle allegedly publicly announced that Ms. Kafenbaum was pregnant while giving a conference presentation to SoulCycle employees about the company’s new parental leave policy.
After Ms. Kafenbaum complained about this unprofessional and unlawful treatment, SoulCycle’s discriminatory conduct only worsened, as alleged. As set forth in the lawsuit, Ms. Gemperle began retaliating against Ms. Kafenbaum by excluding her from decisions within her role and hypercriticizing her work performance. Meanwhile, SoulCycle began to communicate to Ms. Kafenbaum that it wanted to move her into a different role entirely after her maternity leave, discussing roles with her that were clearly intended to be a demotion. After offering various shifting, nebulous excuses for why Ms. Kafenbaum should be demoted, as alleged, SoulCycle ultimately used the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic to unlawfully fire her on April 27, 2020. Moreover, as alleged, SoulCycle suspiciously terminated the employment of three female employees who were either pregnant or had just returned from maternity leave, ostensibly because of the pandemic.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of multiple public resignations by female SoulCycle instructors who accused the fitness chain of failing to uphold its branding as a “caring” and “inclusive” space for riders and employees, as alleged in the Complaint.
"SoulCycle pitches a brand of tolerance and equality. But there is nothing inclusionary about firing a female employee because she became pregnant," said Jeanne Christensen, lead attorney for former #SoulCycle employee Jordan Kafenbaum. https://t.co/b2d0Xp2btf
— WigdorLaw (@WigdorLaw) August 12, 2020
Statement from Jeanne M. Christensen, Partner at Wigdor LLP:
“SoulCycle pitches a brand of ‘tolerance and equality.’ But there is nothing inclusionary about firing a female employee because she became pregnant. This suggests allegiance to the bottom line over a ‘safe community.’ Recent allegations about a lack of commitment to diversity and inclusion by several female instructors creates even more questions about SoulCycle’s culture. We look forward to holding SoulCycle accountable for its unlawful discrimination as alleged in the Complaint by our client Jordan Kafenbaum.”
“Former SoulCycle executive in charge of 400 instructors SUES the company for discrimination claiming she was ‘demoted after revealing her pregnancy and fired 32 days after giving birth'”
August 12, 2020