Guthrie must cease problematic labor practices, judge rules

The order follows the resignation of two Guthrie scene shop employees.
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The Guthrie Theater must stop what a judge has deemed violations of labor law, in light of concerns raised by former employees.

A cease and desist order was issued Friday to the Guthrie by the National Labor Relations Board. The order follows ongoing concerns from now ex-employees about a problematic work environment and retaliation from the theater for participating in union-protected activities.

Molly Diers and Nate Saul both resigned from the Guthrie scene shop in 2018. Diers had expressed concerns about a culture of harassment and offensive jokes in the work environment. Saul, while initially unaware of such problems, became concerned after speaking to female coworkers, according to the order.

After new leadership was brought on in the scene shop in 2016, both Diers and Saul worried little would change in terms of workplace culture.

According to the order, leadership attempted to prevent Diers from bringing her concerns to Human Resources. She also worried her actions led to retaliation from her supervisors in the form of downgraded performance evaluations.

The order states the theater must not threaten employees or downgrade performance evaluations when employees participate in protected activities, including raising such concerns.

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It also requires the Guthrie remove negative performance evaluations for Diers. The order does not include a financial settlement.

Diers told MPR the decision was a win for unions and for women standing up for themselves in workplaces.

The Guthrie, meanwhile, told MPR is "respectfully disagrees" with the ruling but will not appeal.

Diers had shared her complaints about the Guthrie in a viral Facebook posts in January 2018, saying the manager at the scene shop "breeds a sexist culture and continues to encourage it."

"I have seen him stand by while women are mocked and belittled, none of the managers even noticed the off color jokes and behavior. Even when a coworker told a crude rape joke at morning meeting the two ATD’s laughed at it," she wrote.

"This is the Guthrie I worked at. I hoped so badly that they could change, if not for me then for the female carpenters to come after me."

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