A former Akron Art Museum employee filed a lawsuit against the museum and its former director Friday, claiming she was libeled and wrongfully laid off.
Former Associate Educator Amanda Crowe claims in the lawsuit that former Director and CEO Mark Masuoka libeled, slandered and defamed her publicly at a June 1, 2019, outdoor family event at the museum, speaking to her in a loud and hostile manner and accusing her of “orchestrating a family event that the residents of Akron don’t want.”
The lawsuit, filed in Summit County Common Pleas Court, also claims Masuoka later falsely accused her at a meeting with other employees of exposing event participants to “cancer grass” and dangerous chemicals on the grass outside the museum.
Crowe also accuses the museum of unlawful workplace retaliation and fraud. Crowe, who was laid off March 30 amid the coronavirus outbreak, was one of 27 museum employees who wrote a letter of complaint to the board last June with complaints of racism, sexism and bullying by top museum management.
After the board conducted an investigation of the complaints, which Crowe participated in, Crowe “was systematically subjected to new and overbearing oversight, criticism, reductions of resources for her projects, diminishment of her ability to facilitate family events, disciplinary action and other unjustified and unwarranted harassment by her superiors and the management of AAM,” the lawsuit says.
Crowe, represented by Akron attorney R. Scott Haley, is seeking at least $25,000 in compensatory damages on each count.
A museum spokesperson said Saturday that the museum could not comment on pending litigation. Masuoka’s attorney, Benjamin Rudolph Delson, said Saturday that neither he nor Masuoka had seen the filing and could not comment.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.