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‘We Have More Work To Do’: Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh Responds to Allegations That It Mishandled Sexual Misconduct Claims

The Mattress Factory.

COURTESY THE MATTRESS FACTORY

Earlier this week, WESA, a radio station affiliated with NPR, reported that the art space the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh was the subject of a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board by four museum workers—three of them former, one of them current. The workers who filed the complaint allege that the Mattress Factory did not respond appropriately to claims that a fellow employee had engaged in sexual misconduct, including harassment and rape.

Today, the Mattress Factory’s board of directors has responded to the WESA report with a statement explaining that the museum plans to cooperate with the NLRB investigation, and that it intends to conduct its own investigation of its employees’ allegations.

“The Mattress Factory also engaged a human resources professional to address internal personnel issues and to conduct a thorough review of our employee policies,” the statement reads. It continues: “Clearly, we have more work to do.”

The WESA report included five Mattress Factory employees’ accounts of sexual misconduct by a coworker. (The accused employee was not named in the WESA report, though the museum’s board said in its statement today that he no longer works at the Mattress Factory.) According to the report, this past February, one female employee told Michael Olijnyk, who is now the museum’s executive director, that her male colleague had sexually assaulted her. In May, the report says, Olijnyk sent a letter to her saying that he investigated the matter and that the male employee had “received and completed workplace harassment training.” He continued to be employed by the Mattress Factory for “about three months,” according to the WESA report.

Word of the letter spread among Mattress Factory staff, and in September, four people filed the NLRB complaint alleging that the museum had retaliated or discriminated against employees who had made allegations of sexual harassment and assault. (Michael White, the board’s chairman, told WESA that no retaliation had taken place.)

“Quite simply, all of these allegations do not represent our values,” the board said in a statement. “We continue to work to get to the bottom of this and to meet our responsibility to provide a safe, positive environment where staffers are able to learn, grow and develop in their roles.”

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