The New York Botanical Garden was a hothouse of racial and religious discrimination, a new federal lawsuit charges.
The Manhattan Federal Court filing alleges the iconic “living museum” in Bronx intentionally kept minority students from the same access that white students received to a special Frida Kahlo art exhibition.
And it further charges “blatant unlawful religious discrimination” by a garden executive who blanched at hiring an Orthodox Jewish woman because she would need to be off on Friday evenings and Saturdays.
Plaintiff Andrea Chusid worked at the famed garden from February 2010 through July 2016, when she was fired, according to the 14-page court filing.
She alleges that her boss ordered a lowball offer to a Jewish job applicant in April 2016 “solely so that the candidate would feel compelled to reject it.”
“Ms. Chusid’s termination was a retaliatory action taken in response to (her) engaging in protected opposition to the unlawful discriminatory acts she witnessed and reported,” the lawsuit charged.
The problems began in the spring of 2015, when city public school students were visiting the grounds.
“In or around June 2015, NYBG allowed a group of mostly Caucasian students to view a special exhibition of paintings,” the lawsuit charges.
“On the same day, a group comprised of mostly minority students from a charter school in Bronx attempted to view the same exhibition but were initially denied entrance.”
Chusid charged that her supervisor turned from a fan into a critic when she raised the incident with the garden’s human resources department. She said her typically positive performance reviews took a turn for the negative after she raised the issue.
A garden spokeswoman shot down the discrimination allegation, telling the media it was “not only false but made out of whole cloth. The garden is renowned for its inclusive children’s programs.”