Is this women-only co-working club violating the city’s human rights law?

Commission is investigating the Wing

From left: The Wing Flatiron, SoHo and co-founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan (Credit: The Wing)
From left: The Wing Flatiron, SoHo and co-founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan (Credit: The Wing)

Officials are investigating whether or not a women-only co-working club, the Wing, has violated the city’s Human Rights Law.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights has opened a “commission-initiated investigation,” into whether the Wing has violated the law, Jezebel reported. The city bars “businesses that furnish public accommodation, including most private clubs” from discriminating against customers based on gender.

“All that’s happened is that the Wing and the commission have agreed, mutually, to sit down and have a conversation,” said Karen Dunn of Boies Schiller Flexner, who is representing the Wing.

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The probe is a setback for the company, which has enjoyed positive media coverage and investment interest in recent months. In November, the company raised $32 million in Series B funding, the bulk of which came from co-working competitor, WeWork. The infusion brought total investment in the Wing to more than $42 million. The company has three locations in New York.

Melissa Murray, a professor of law at University of California at Berkeley who is teaching at New York University, criticized the investigation.

“I think it’s patently absurd for New York’s human rights commission to be focusing on the Wing when we’ve had, over the last six months, numerous complaints about workplaces being absolutely hostile to women in terms of pervasive and endemic sexual harassment,” she told Jezebel. “Leaving aside the fact that so many workplaces seem to be rife with incidents of sexual harassment, now, after #MeToo, I think there are a lot of men in positions of authority who are going to be really skeptical and afraid to mentor women and that might make a space like this even more necessary.” [Jezebel] — Kathryn Brenzel