Unable to join a suit filed in July seeking class action status, employees of marketing juggernaut Meow Wolf's upcoming Denver installation have filed a separate complaint in Santa Fe's District Court. According to the attorney representing Zoë and Mar Williams (no relation and who both use the singular pronoun "they"), Holly Agajanian, they still hope to merge the cases at a later date.
The new lawsuit alleges a wide gamut of offenses leading to breach of contract and discrimination, such as lack of job clarity and extra hours worked without proper compensation. Additionally, it says, Zoë Williams lodged a complaint with Meow Wolf's human resources that alleges a former employee of the company, whom they believed had been fired for sexual harassment, was sending inappropriate selfie photos to another employee "against her wishes," as well as images featuring the former employee and the company's previous CEO Vince Kadlubek.
According to the lawsuit, then-vice president of human resources Marianne Palacios, who has since retired but still serves as a consultant for Meow Wolf, informed Williams that unless they specifically told the former employee such contact was unwanted, the company would not step in.
The filing argues that Meow Wolf's responses "to the complaints of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation demonstrate a pattern of the company's failure to take such claims seriously and failure to comply with the company's policies and procedures regarding such complaints."
The lawsuit also alleges the selfie-sending former employee pressured Zoë Williams and her staff to attend social gatherings when he visited Colorado, and that he and Kadlubek had asked Meow Wolf employees in Denver to procure them LSD. Kadlubek still maintains a position with the company as an executive advisor.
This really only scratches the surface. Zoë and Mar also allege that when Zoë attempted to address her concerns with Kadlubek, they were told to "drop the social justice issues," and that Kadlubek had cyberbullied Mar when they raised concerns about Meow Wolf on social media. Also according to the complaint, another employee, Max Beck-Keller, displayed consistent hostile and discriminatory behavior toward female and nonbinary employees. It alleges Beck-Keller also has ties to a known racist and homophobic political group in Denver. The lawsuit alleges that when these concerns were raised, managers summarily ignored them. Both Zoë and Mar maintain that their overall work environment has grown increasingly hostile in the wake of their initial complaint.
In a statement released after the filing, Meow Wolf says, "We are disappointed by these baseless allegations, which run completely counter to our culture, and we will strongly defend against them through the legal process."
The company affirms Zoë and Mar are still employed by Meow Wolf, and that "beyond the letter of our strict formal policies prohibiting discrimination of any type, we have recognized the need to proactively address the potential for gender bias in society at large and, as such, have invited an open, forward-looking, productive—and ongoing—internal dialogue designed to continue to ensure our workplace is positive, respectful and safe and our workforce is informed and engaged."
"There are inaccuracies and falsehoods throughout [the complaint]," Kadlubek tells SFR. "I don't really have anything to add that's not in the statement."
The newest claims mirror those in a case filed by Tara Khozein and Gina Maciuszek this summer. Their attorney is asking the court to declare a special class of women and nonbinary people who worked for Meow Wolf. Zoë and Mar sought to join that action, but Meow Wolf objected. A judge must rule a case is considered as a class action before additional plaintiffs can be added without the consent of the defense.
In a joint statement released today, Zoë Williams, Mar Williams, Tara Khozein and Gina Maciuszek write, "If Meow Wolf is really having an 'internal dialogue' on issues of gender bias, Zoë and Mar have never been given access to or been included in them, despite Zoë's requests … we will seek to consolidate these two lawsuits, which were filed separately for procedural reasons only. Gina, Tara, Mar and Zoë together are seeking transparency, systems change and an end to abusive treatment of Meow Wolf employees."