Fired Museum Director Sues North Miami

     (CN) — The former director of North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art claims in court that he was ousted for political reasons on false allegations of sexual misconduct.
     In a complaint filed in Miami-Dade County, former museum director Babacar M’Bow says he was fired in December after an investigation into an employee’s sexual harassment complaint.
     But he says the complaint was baseless and that there was no legitimate reason to fire him.
     “This case is about the city’s unlawful and political attempt to use false, baseless, and banal accusations of sexual misconduct to ruin the reputation of an unwitting man,” the April 17 complaint says.
     M’Bow claims defendants Arthur Sorey III — North Miami’s interim city manager — and Joseph Roglieri, Jr. — the city’s personnel administration director — “spoon fed the accusations to local, national, and international media outlets as a basis to remove him from his post.”
     The dustup began with a complaint from Tiffany Madera, the museum’s outreach and programming manager, who testified that M’Bow asked her about her sex life at work, told employees they needed to get laid and made comments such as, “she wants my swinging dick.”
     According to the complaint, M’Bow told employees he prefers a sexually open environment.
     The city investigated Madera ‘s complaint, and on Dec. 31 Sorey sent M’Bow a letter of termination.
     “Based on the findings of the city’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against you, as well as your lack of appropriate supervision over your subordinate employees, I lack confidence in your ability to serve as the spokesperson and chief advocate for the museum,” Sorey wrote.
     Articles about the dismissal appeared in the Miami Herald, the Miami New Times and other news outlets.
     During the investigation, M’Bow denied being inappropriate with his staff and claimed the accusations were false. Madera was speaking out against him, he said, because she was afraid she was going to be fired.
     He also argued that he was married to feminist scholar, and that he has “strong feminist politics.”
     M’Bow was born in Senegal and educated in Paris, and has written books including “Philippe Dodard: The Idea of Modernity in Contemporary Haitian Art.”
     He serves as guest lecturer and curator of art exhibits for universities, and also worked at the Broward County Library for 11 years — a job he left for the position with the museum.
     Part of the attraction to that job, M’Bow’s states in his complaint, was its classification as a civil service position.
     After his termination, M’Bow submitted a request for a hearing to challenge the allegations against him. The city refused, according M’Bow’s complaint, which he says is a violation under the city’s Code of Ordinances and Personnel Rules, as well as his due process rights under the Florida Constitution.
     He is suing Sorey, Roglieri and the city of North Miami for declaratory, preliminary injunctive and mandamus relief.
     M’Bow is requesting that the court enjoin the defendants from hiring a new museum director and grant him a hearing before the City’s Personnel Board.
     Sorley declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
     M’Bow is represented by Bridgette Thorton of Wallen Hernandez Lee Martinez, LLP of Coral Gables, Florida.
     Thornton was not immediately available for comment.

%d bloggers like this: