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Finlay Resigns, Catazaro and Ramasar Suspended -- Update: Catazaro and Ramasar Fired


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7 minutes ago, Ilovegiselle said:

So Maria Kowroski commented on Amar's post  "😘❤️" kissy face emoji. 

If Maria supports her, how do we feel about Amar now?  she's the most senior ballerina and well respected at City Ballet.

She's just one of many female dancers at NYCB. And, due to her seniority, is probably the least likely to have been targeted for illicit photo-sharing. 

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16 minutes ago, Ilovegiselle said:

If Maria supports her, how do we feel about Amar now?  she's the most senior ballerina and well respected at City Ballet.

Why would "we" feel anything differently because Kowrowski supports him and more than the dancers who withdrew support (on social media)/came to a different conclusion once the story and the complaint became well-publicized?

 

14 minutes ago, abatt said:

Exactly.  The employment status of two principal dancers should not be based on public opinion or a popularity contest.

I'm guessing that taking Maria Kowrowski's word for it would not indicate a popularity contest, nor would it not endow her with especial wisdom or objectivity.

 

20 minutes ago, Rick said:

I'm speculating, and feel free to delete if this is inappropriate, that Catazaro and Ramasar were fired to appease the donors and prevent a #metoo protest on opening night.

Reactions to the suspensions and firings and the complaint have been polarized, so I wouldn't put "donors" all in the same bucket; the big/real donors are the Board members, and they were the ones who either approved or didn't veto the suspensions in the first place, and they wouldn't need to be appeased.

Even if there was a #metoo protest -- which I think the Company would have deserved, given how tepid a response I think the suspensions were -- that would have been a week-long media blitz, not the long and expensive arbitration road with AGMA.

 

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20 minutes ago, abatt said:

Firing of a dancer should not be based on feedback from other dancers.  Ramasar and Catazaro were working at NYCB for many years, and up until Saturday the company apparently never got negative feedback about them and continually renewed their contracts. Ramasar has been working there for about 18 years, and Catazaro for about 11.

We don't know — or at least I don't know — what kind of feedback the company may have gotten from its employees regarding any of its other employees prior to this event.

I agree that the decision to dismiss an employee shouldn't be a popularity contest, but the company would also be within its rights to take any employee concerns about the workplace into consideration when making such a decision.

The decision will be taken to arbitration per the company's agreement with AGMA in any event, which is a good thing. That's why the union is there.

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If work environment was raised as an issue, then feedback from dancers would not only be relevant, it would be a necessary input.  Since there's no evidence that the Company solicited feedback, ignoring unsolicited feedback would be a risky option.

49 minutes ago, abatt said:

It matters because nobody in the company has been identified as a victim of the distribution of improper images by  Ramasar or Catazaro. The alleged victim is Waterbury, who  has never been a member of the company.

The content of the inappropriate communications was never discussed by NYCB, but the company said it investigated what was provided to them by/through Waterbury.

The single complainant is Waterbury, but the complaint alleges that Company dancers were victimized, not only Waterbury.  The fact that no other victims have been identified in the complaint does not meant they aren't identified in the communications, won't be revealed or discussed in discovery or be disclosed at trial, if it gets that far.  There's no obligation to disclose anyone in the complaint or against cherry-picking.

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15 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Al Franken resigned. 

After just about every Senator who is also a woman voted him off the island. I think it's safe to say he resigned under duress. I don't know if the requisite number of Senators would have voted for expulsion after an ethics probe, but he didn't have enough support within his own caucus to make it that far.

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12 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

After just about every Senator who is also a woman voted him off the island. I think it's safe to say he resigned under duress. I don't know if the requisite number of Senators would have voted for expulsion after an ethics probe, but he didn't have enough support within his own caucus to make it that far.

Had Franken decided to mount a defense,  he might have kept his seat.  Ramasar and Catazaro are able to defend themselves through their union.  The great thing about binding arbitration is that it limits the parties' financial exposure,  another plus for a strong union.  If the decision goes against Ramasar  and  Catazaro,  they're history as far as their jobs go.  However because of other factors,  like the way the evidence was gathered  and the gap between  suspension and firing,  they might still be able to sue somebody for damages.

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12 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Ramasar and Catazaro are able to defend themselves through their union.  The great thing about binding arbitration is that it limits the parties' financial exposure,  another plus for a strong union. 

Go union! It really is good that the dancers, musicians, and stagehands have one. It would be a fine thing if even more people had one.

 

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3 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Go union! It really is good that the dancers, musicians, and stagehands have one. It would be a fine thing if even more people had one.

 

Absolutely. 

It would also be a fine thing if unions defended employees against transgressive behavior by their fellow employees, as well as defending them against their employers.  And this criticism isn't specific to this situation, but is just a reminder of my experiences in my union days.

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I’m not sure what to think about Ramasar’s second statement.

 

But I will say this:  if he received photos of Waterbury and knew she didn’t consent or he didn’t bother to ask Finlay if she was alright with him receiving them, then he failed at being a decent human being, regardless of whether he publicized them to anyone.

A decent person wouldn’t be ok at looking at them if the subject didn’t consent to it.  Just my opinion.  Whether he legally should lose his job or not will be for others to sort out.

Edited by Kaysta
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1 minute ago, Helene said:

It would also be a fine thing if unions defended employees against transgressive behavior by their fellow employees, as well as defending them against their employers.  And this criticism isn't specific to this situation, but is just a reminder of my experiences in my union days.

I suspect that it will be difficult for any union that believes its primary mission is to defend its members from the depredations of their employers to re-orient even a little bit of its focus towards workplaces made toxic by some of the very people it has been charged to protect. 

I remember one of my grad-school professors telling me way back in the 70s that we would get around to solving the problem of sexism once we'd solved the problem of capitalism. 

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If I had a child at the crossroads of choosing a career path, or if someone in that position asked me for advice, I would advise them to avoid any extreme specialization that would limit their career to a relatively few, highly powered decision makers and to find one where they had a lot of options to remove themselves from toxic environments.  (Of course, if they were my child, they would ignore my advice.)

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

It may be that they received feedback from dancers and other NYCB employees after the Waterbury's complaint was made public that either advocated for dismissal or indicated that dismissal would be tolerated by the organization at large. 

Right, my point entirely. You can't make decisions about dismissal based on the level at which "the organization at large would tolerate them."  That's bizarre.  You should know your policies, know what's legally permissible and do what you are going to do.  That's my point, get PR OUT OF THE ROOM. You can't treat employment decisions like you would a season campaign, offensive photo on a website, or a press release.  

This could be a decision made by legal but waffling usually is not a good legal move and that's proving to be the case now. Just makes the organization seem unclear about it's own rules. 

Edited by balletforme
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10 minutes ago, balletforme said:

Right, my point entirely. You can't make decisions about dismissal based on the level at which "the organization at large would tolerate them."  That's bizarre.  You should know your policies, know what's legally permissible and do what you are going to do.  That's my point, get PR OUT OF THE ROOM. You can't treat employment decisions like you would a season campaign, offensive photo on a website, or a press release.  

This could be a decision made by legal but waffling usually is not a good legal move and that's proving to be the case now. Just makes the organization seem unclear about it's own rules. 

I agree that the company needs to look first to its policies and to its commitments under its agreement with AGMA, but testing its available options against legitimate employee concerns about the workplace isn't just PR. 

ETA by way of clarification: The company may have determined that its legally available options ranged from doing nothing, to sending a strongly worded letter, to what we used to cheerfully refer to in my workplace as "a come to Jesus meeting," to rehab, to demotion, to suspension, and finally, to firing. Before Waterbury's complaint was made public, company management might have believed (perhaps rightly) that a suspension was the most feasible sanction it could impose without sending the organization into a tailspin. Once the nature of the transgression was made public and its contours were more than just idle gossip, it may have decided the workplace would be sent into a tailspin if it didn't dismiss Ramasar and Catazaro. 

I don't know what the company's thinking was, and I certainly don't know what the right answer is without knowing more about who did what to whom.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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11 hours ago, Helene said:

By asking for financial damages, she has revealed the goal of her lawsuit.  

I don't want to read into your words, so...

What was she supposed to do? What were her options? Ask for an apology? You are making it sound (to me) as if she's a shady shakedown racketeer.

For those who ask why she didn't go to the police, It's not a criminal case where they will bring out the rape kit. 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, balanchinefreak said:

I don't want to read into your words, so...

Then don't. In context, my words were to distinguish between a clearly stated, public-facing goal, and motivations, about which there is only speculation.

5 minutes ago, balanchinefreak said:

What was she supposed to do?

Exactly what she did.  You don't file a lawsuit and without describing the remedies you're seeking, and she justified them with the toll this has taken on her life.

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6 hours ago, aurora said:

It seems this is the time of year for clearing house of bad actors over at Lincoln Center:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/16/arts/music/new-york-philharmonic-liang-wang-matthew-muckey.html

Seems to be catching:

https://www.cleveland.com/musicdance/index.ssf/2018/09/cleveland_orchestra_trombonist_1.html

There is more information on the NY Philharmonic firings on the classical musicians websites.  Compared to what  the musicians are accused of,  Finlay,  Ramasar  and  Catazaro are choir boys,  which may work to their benefit.  I suspect that the ballet issue will continue to get more coverage because the principal actors are all young and sensationally attractive,  and there are lots of photos available of them wearing very little.  The musicians not so much.

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One of my first mentors when I was entering the workplace advised that company policies, "rules and regulations" and HR functions were about conflict resolution and not about justice or fairness and that "resolution" usually rests in the eye of the company/leadership. It was helpful advice that I have kept in mind ever since.

The judicial system could also be characterized similarly, which is why the results are often unsatisfying or fail to tie up all the loose ends of a given case.

The union contract/representation is probably much the same. The union is tasked with resolving conflicts between management and employees, and not serving up truth and justice. Whatever happens with this case, I'm sure it won't answer all of the questions or please everyone. I just hope that NYCB can ride out this turmoil and that the #metoo era marks the beginning of deep cultural change at every level. To borrow words from writer Roxane Gay, "I'm not optimistic, but I am hopeful."

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7 minutes ago, kylara7 said:

One of my first mentors when I was entering the workplace advised that company policies, "rules and regulations" and HR functions were about conflict resolution and not about justice or fairness and that "resolution" usually rests in the eye of the company/leadership. It was helpful advice that I have kept in mind ever since.

The judicial system could also be characterized similarly, which is why the results are often unsatisfying or fail to tie up all the loose ends of a given case.

The union contract/representation is probably much the same. The union is tasked with resolving conflicts between management and employees, and not serving up truth and justice. Whatever happens with this case, I'm sure it won't answer all of the questions or please everyone. I just hope that NYCB can ride out this turmoil and that the #metoo era marks the beginning of deep cultural change at every level. To borrow words from writer Roxane Gay, "I'm not optimistic, but I am hopeful."

Very well put, kylara7. 

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1 hour ago, balletforme said:

You can't make decisions about dismissal based on the level at which "the organization at large would tolerate them."  That's bizarre.  You should know your policies, know what's legally permissible and do what you are going to do.  That's my point, get PR OUT OF THE ROOM.

Considering intra-organizational concerns is, by definition, not really PR.

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Quote

Al Franken resigned.  Although there is a mechanism to expel a Senator,  it was not utilized,  and likely would have failed if it had been.

 

Quote

After just about every Senator who is also a woman voted him off the island. I think it's safe to say he resigned under duress. I don't know if the requisite number of Senators would have voted for expulsion after an ethics probe, but he didn't have enough support within his own caucus to make it that far.

Which the (Democratic) ladies felt safe in doing because Franken had the bad luck to come from a state with a Democratic governor who would appoint his successor. Otherwise, it's possible the matter might have been left to the Ethics Committee and, in due course, the voters of Minnesota.

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On 9/17/2018 at 2:12 PM, balletforme said:

Maybe I missed something but why are Ramasar and Catazaro, being fired after an initial decision was made for suspension? 

NYCB had 2 months with the evidence made available to them in June to determine if these two needed to be fired or not. They chose to suspend them but now, once the negative press is accelerating, they fire them?

Seems like a PR motivated thing to do. A panicked, "We've got to do something," move. 

What is new now that requires these two to be fired and not suspended as originally determined? 

I have cut and pasted below what they wrote (which you may have seen): the issue is "further assessment"  which surely is the company's prerogative; I don't assume it just means PR assessment, but assessment of what is happening in the workplace. Here is the quote:

"In a previous communication from New York City Ballet, you learned that the Company recently undertook an internal investigation that determined that Zachary Catazaro, Chase Finlay, and Amar Ramasar had violated the norms of conduct that NYCB expects of its employees. At that time New York City Ballet took the initial action of suspending Catazaro and Ramasar, and had made the decision to terminate Finlay, prior to receiving notice of his resignation.

"After further assessment of their conduct and its impact on the NYCB community, the decision has been made to terminate Catazaro and Ramasar. A workplace where our dancers and staff feel respected and valued is our highest obligation, and we will not allow the private actions of a few to undermine the hard work and strength of character that has consistently been demonstrated by the other members of our community, or the excellence for which the Company stands."

I can't say I'm surprised dancers (notably a couple of principal dancers) are expressing sympathy for their friends.  But I would like to believe it's not simply a matter of knee-jerk loyalty. Loyalty is a lovely quality as is friendship, but that kind of show of loyalty often happens in other fields (eg academia) around similar kinds of issues and I think that, on the whole, it has been detrimental to movement on issues of sexual exploitation in universities and in the workplace. As Stephen Colbert said about Les Moonves who hired him and was a big supporter of his show--even if it's your guy, you shouldn't just automatically be on his side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKa5u6mX05o  

Indeed if this WERE a popularity contest within the company, one can't help but suppose that Waterbury's interests would stand no chance, because she is presumably not known to most of the dancers. Which is yet another reason this shouldn't be a popularity contest. (For that matter a new corps de ballet member wouldn't have the clout of a long time principal etc. etc.)

If other dancers'/employees' photos have been distributed as alleged, then this all must be unbelievably painful for them and I hope and trust the company's leaders and, when appropriate, other dancers and the union also have concern for their interests. (There are a number of issues raised by the complaint that extend beyond Waterbury that I hope have been or are being investigated by the company seriously.)

I notice a lot of people above read Ramasar's second statement more warily/critically than I did...I was just relieved there was some nod to regret and sympathy for Waterbury.

Edited by Drew
typo
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45 minutes ago, Drew said:

I have cut and pasted below what they wrote (which you may have seen): the issue is "further assessment"  which surely is the company's prerogative; I don't assume it just means PR assessment, but assessment of what is happening in the workplace. Here is the quote:

"In a previous communication from New York City Ballet, you learned that the Company recently undertook an internal investigation that determined that Zachary Catazaro, Chase Finlay, and Amar Ramasar had violated the norms of conduct that NYCB expects of its employees. At that time New York City Ballet took the initial action of suspending Catazaro and Ramasar, and had made the decision to terminate Finlay, prior to receiving notice of his resignation.

"After further assessment of their conduct and its impact on the NYCB community, the decision has been made to terminate Catazaro and Ramasar. A workplace where our dancers and staff feel respected and valued is our highest obligation, and we will not allow the private actions of a few to undermine the hard work and strength of character that has consistently been demonstrated by the other members of our community, or the excellence for which the Company stands."

I can't say I'm surprised dancers (notably a couple of principal dancers) are expressing sympathy for their friends.  But I would like to believe it's not simply a matter of knee-jerk loyalty. Loyalty is a lovely quality as is friendship, but that kind of show of loyalty often happens in other fields (eg academica) around similar kinds of issues and I think that, on the whole, it has been detrimental to movement on issues of sexual exploitation in universities and in the workplace. As Stephen Colbert said about Les Moonves who hired him and was a big supporter of his show--even if it's your guy, you shouldn't just automatically be on his side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKa5u6mX05o  

Indeed if this WERE a popularity contest within the company, one can't help but suppose that Waterbury's interests would stand no chance, because she is presumably not known to most of the dancers. Which is yet another reason this shouldn't be a popularity contest. (For that matter a new corps de ballet member wouldn't have the clout of a long time principal etc. etc.)

If other dancers'/employees' photos have been distributed as alleged, then this all must be unbelievably painful for them and I hope and trust the company's leaders and, when appropriate, other dancers and the union also have concern for their interests. (There are a number of issues raised by the complaint that extend beyond Waterbury that I hope have been or are being investigated by the company seriously.)

I notice a lot of people above read Ramasar's second statement more warily/critically than I did...I was just relieved there was some nod to regret and sympathy for Waterbury.

NYCB may have lost the arbitration already,  based on their own statement:  They admit that Catazaro  and  Ramasar were fired because their "private actions".  If I were sitting on that arbitration  panel it would be case closed.  (But I'm not, so who's to say how this will play out.)

It may not be unbelievably painful for the female dancers to have photos of themselves in states of undress passed around to a few male colleagues.  Not that I think they liked it,  but dancers tend to be far more comfortable than the general public with exposing their bodies.  Case in point,  Ashley Bouder proudly displaying her bare behind on her Instagram.  (For that matter,  so are professional models.  In many of the shots on Ms. Waterbury's  Instagram,  she is very scantily clad.)

At point 50 in the complaint,  it is alleged that an illicit photo of a female soloist was shared with Finlay from "a male employee" of NYCB.  This is key - if it had been a dancer who did it,  the complaint would have said so.  It indicates that while dancers may have seen the photos,  they didn't  take them.  There are numerous male employees who could have taken surreptitious photos of female dancers dressing.  The complainant  must know who this person is.  He should be named and shamed just as the dancers have been.   (And fired,  of course!)

The NYCB is in an interesting  position.  In order to win the arbitration,  they have to persuade the arbitrators that the actions of Catazaro  and  Ramasar created a hostile work environment,  or at least an unproductive distraction,  and that their treatment of their fellow dancers was so abusive and detrimental to the image of the company that they deserve to be fired.  On the other hand,  if they strenuously press that contention,  should they fail to get the Waterbury case against them dismissed,  they will have done Merson's job for him,  to a degree.  I personally don't  believe Waterbury has standing to make a hostile workplace  claim about her ex-boyfriend's workplace,  but you never know how the court will rule.

So many of the company's principal dancers and soloists have expressed support for Catazaro and Ramasar,  the people they interact with the most,  one wonders,  who are the "community" members who can't tolerate their presence?  Why should their opinion count for more than the artists people come to the theater to see?

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