On Tuesday I was fired from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. I had worked there since 2001, was there on the morning of 9-11 and was an incredibly dedicated employee. During my employment there, I worked part-time (approximately 30 hours a week) and never received health insurance or even a sick day. Funny because the museum espouses “labor reform.” Still, I came to work, hardly complained and watched the visitors’ center grow into a million-dollar a year “business” (despite it officially being a non-profit.) I read a huge amount of the literature in the store and was therefore great at selling books. This year, specifically, my schedule was switched to Friday-Monday, which meant I never had a weekend. I worked Black Friday, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, which meant I also didn’t get to see my family. And on the days off I did have, I was too broke to travel to see them.

I wasn’t sure things there could get more Dickensian until this past week, when on a quick work break, I walked to get coffee and tripped on a crack in the Delancey Street sidewalk, smashing my face in. It was literally a bloody mess. (Though thank you Omega 7, it is healing.) And more thankfully, a woman passing by who knew a nearby EMT took me to him. I am still in pain. My lip is still split and my neck suffered minor whiplash, given I swiveled my head around as I fell to avoid breaking all my teeth. Of course I couldn’t go to a doctor (no insurance!) and probably needed stitches but instead suffered the indignity of high school kids calling me “two-face.” (As someone pointed out, at least they read Batman!)

Since I was drenched in blood, I was obviously sent home from work that day. That Friday I was still in pain, but took 4 Advil and tried to come in. The manager, Jes, asked me to work in the basement, even though I was always best on the sales floor, at my register. The girl who took my place was almost half my age. Guess you have to be without facial scars and young to sell books. The next day I came in and was sent home because Jes told me I needed a “mental health day” even though my problem was obviously physical. Then, having finally gotten Sundays off (something they agreed to 2 weeks ago), a manager named Rachel called me on a Sunday and left me a message telling me I needed to take another “mental health day” on Monday. I called her and told her I didn’t need one. She said, “Don’t call me on a Sunday!” I said you just called me on a Sunday.” I felt like Alice in Wonderland trying to play croquet with a flamingo. Nothing made sense.

Then Rachel told me I had a meeting on Tuesday with Mary Kate, yet another manager. I sat down in the conference room on Tuesday with Mary Kate and Barry Roseman (who is the director of operations) and they told me I was “terminated.” I asked Barry why. He said, “I’m not giving you a reason.” I persisted and he told me I needed to leave the conference room because he had an important meeting. I refused. He finally screamed at me, “insubordination!” and stormed out.

And that’s how it went down. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise since the managers (Mary Kate, Jes and Rachel) have fired many other people in the past 2 months – all hard workers with great personality. I guess personality equals being fired there.

Please boycott the Tenement Museum. As I said before, they espouse labor reform while not practicing it. Al Smith is rolling in his grave right now.


97 Responses to “Fired!”

  1. Chris Says:

    Shit! I’m sorry, Jen.
    “During my employment there, I worked part-time (approximately 30 hours a week) and never received health insurance or even a sick day. Funny because the museum espouses “labor reform.””
    That reminds me of how there was no AC in the old Visitor’s Center, but employees had to wear long pants all summer, while watching people showing up to the air-conditioned office across the street in shorts. And then we’d sell tickets for tours discussing the evils of sweatshops…

  2. JA Todras and Eliz. Nicklis Says:

    File for food stamps today, online, with the feds, and unemployment with the NY State Dept of Labor ONLINE and immediately. Claim your having been fired was unjust and illegal, and was based on lies they conjured up,m including telling you you were insubordinate, even though there is absolutely no truth to it. Hopefully, you will have witnesses, as well as fellow workers who’;d come to your hearing. IF the museum challenges your receiving unemployment, which they almost certainly will, make sure you DO NOT USE a law student to represent you. The museum will hire a real lawyer who’;d make mincemeat of your statements, even make up more stuff. At hearings, If THEIR LAWYER lies about you, immediately interrupt and say YOU OBJECT TO That statement, because

    no testimony was been given to that those things are unproven and in fact, just lies.

    If your manager or boss lies, ask to rebut their false testimony.

    BTW: Sue the store owner on the property where you got hurt. You MUST get medical treatment and you will need a report, and prognoses.

    Find lawyers who’d rep you for free ( there are some), and if none, ask friends for friends who are lawyers who’d give you ten or 15 minutes of their time.

    • Chuck Says:

      Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
      Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

      I was wrongfully terminated by a company that was going under and simply didn’t want to pay severance pay to me, while at the same time they sent out letters to others describing the severance pay! I was asked to do dangerous work that I was not trained to do. I removed myself from the hostile work environment, without quitting, and chased them down for every single penny. After the dust settled, I moved on. I did so with my head held high and knowing that no one can take advantage of me and live to tell about it. Satisfaction has warmed the cockles of my heart ever since. The worst thing they can do is say they won’t open a claim. However, if they do… you are home free. Mediation is the next step and you bring a lawyer with you because they will end up paying those fees, too. Read up on discrimination and then think about what happened to you, put it in context of how it falls in to that description and stick to your story.

    • Bennett Schneider Says:

      Exactly right! Do these things!! You can also contact the Labor Board and you can sue for wrongful termination. If you get a group of the fired workers together maybe you can get a class action or group suit.

  3. Regina Bartkoff Says:

    I’m boycotting! Come into el sombrero for a marg on me before the axe comes down over my head!

  4. Steve Says:

    I will surely boycott them. Stay strong.

  5. Julie Says:

    So sorry to hear this. I knew there was something weird about the Tenement Museum. I had no idea how weird. I saw you once working there and got excited that the Museum had a neighborhood celeb working among them. Their loss.

  6. Brandon Says:

    That’s terrible. Best of luck to you.

  7. Spyro Poulos Says:

    Jen that sucks – That you’ll get a better gig I have no doubt, but it sounds like you put a lot of heart and soul into the job which is the saddest part.

  8. Lindsay Goldwert Says:

    Oh no! I remember you from when I did stand-up comedy back in 2001 at Collective Unconscious and you actually laughed. I’m so sorry you got hurt and you’re having a bad time. Being fired from the Tenement Museum reminds me of my time at a newspaper where no one knew how to communicate with each other. You’re better off. Best of luck, you deserve health insurance. Best, Lindsay Goldwert

  9. opdyke Says:

    Cheers Jen, You made that museum what it is today. Without you, they wouldn’t exist. I am sorry this happened to you. You will prevail.

  10. Elizabeth Blumberg Says:

    I can’t believe they don’t have any kind of HR system and just fire people ‘because I said so.’

  11. katt hernandez Says:

    I don’t know you at all, but this sounds mad unjust. I think you and the others who got fired might at least have a look-see into the funders of that place and write them a letter. . . .might not do a bit of good, but hey, ya never know. Good luck with everything. I hope you find something infinitely cooler.

  12. Chris Says:

    Contact an attorney. Don’t walk. Run to legal counsel. It sounds like they behaved illegally and you were wrongfully terminated. There are laws to protect you. Something tells me that they will have no problem settling to avoid bad publicity.

    • Anna Says:

      Yes! @chris. This absolutely sounds like wrongful termination. Not sure who to contact since I’m not in NY but I would try Lawyers Guild and NY Department of Labor. @jen save all documentation related to termination: phone messages, emails, corroboration of your account of how things happened and be doubly clear on the timeline of event. Also dig up a copy of the contract you signed with the LES Tenement Museum

      Jen: here is to your physical and emotional healing. To speedily finding a tenable (!) work situation and to having the energy to pursue justice on this one.

  13. Natalie Says:

    I saw this in my FB feed and its really messed up. Do you want your old job back? A new job? Money for healthcare? Services to help you get free healthcare? Boycotting the museum is one thing but maybe there’s organizations that can help you advocate for yourself in this, depending on what you want to do. Best wishes!

  14. Hello World Says:

    Question: If you were so unhappy there for so many years (decade+) – with unhealthy working conditions, undesirable schedule, and no health insurance — WHY did you stay so many years? The beauty of America is the freedom of choice – including choice of employment! Why didn’t you move on years ago and find a job that met your needs? (And please don’t tell me that (a) there are no jobs in this economy or (b) because you were persuing your passion) There’s lots of museums, non-profits, cultural center, etc out there. And lots of jobs.

    Move on…

    • reverendjen Says:

      Hello World, I had MANY jobs while also working at the museum, published 4 books while working there, wrote for VHI, Oxygen, Penthouse, Cleo, Artnet and Nerve while working there and frankly, wasn’t unhappy there because I accepted that choosing to live life as a writer and painter won’t make you rich but to me it’s like breathing. I can’t imagine living without the luxury of making art. But the price paid is being broke. I stayed because I thought I had job security. Please don’t be an apologist for an institution that treats workers terribly. I’m obviously forced to move on. I will land on my feet. It’s what I’ve always done. Do you have ANY idea how many Americans don’t have health care, vacation days, sick days or other benefits? And how many Americans keep those jobs because what they need is enough cash to get through the day? You comment is sickening. You can go ahead and write another comment, have the last word but I guarantee it will be stupid. When you let someone who is misguided and ignorant have the last word, you don’t need to say another thing. I always give idiots the benefit of the last word because it speaks volumes.

    • Natala Says:

      I’m assumiing either Hello World is either not from NYC or really really clueless.

    • praisethelorne Says:

      Hello World: What a douche.

  15. Helene Says:

    I feel you. I was also terminated from my job as an assistant Pre-school teacher under bogus circumstances. My job, which was supposedly terminated, was given to someone 25 years younger without arthritic knees. This was in, what was supposed to be, a Catholic School environment. It would be nice if institutions practiced what they preached! Hang in there. You are, most certainly, not alone.

  16. crocfoot Says:

    sounds like you have been wronged ! take Chris’s suggestion and they work on contingency basis.

  17. Oneira Rosbaud Says:

    Employment at will prevails – if you had no contract there is no recourse.

  18. Andrew Says:

    Hi Jen, I’m from the UK and will be passing by New York in August on tour. I don’t know you, the Tenement Museum or any of the douches that seem to run the place but this message makes me want to come down to Orchard Street and stick my foot up each of their arses in turn.

    If you still require this service in August for any reason, let me know and I’ll make good on my word. I’ll have several large musicians with me who will similarly be happy to provide assistance.

  19. MM Says:

    I also work in a part-time, benefit-less job, by choice, to allow myself an extra day a week than the rest of the world, to pursue my own creative life. I really feel for your situation and you should definitely see what can be done here. To fire someone for no reason like that seems illegal, for sure.

    Also, “Hello World” is a tool. People who keep a positive attitude, have a work ethic, and devote years of their life to a work situation for the resources that it DOES give them (community, security, purpose, sense of achievement, personal connections, and much more), should not be punished or made to feel like they made a bad choice. The bad choice was made on the part of the company.

    • reverendjen Says:

      Thank you. That one extra day is a day to paint or write. It’s crucial to survival. Only someone who is a shit writer or painter wouldn’t get that.

  20. redriverhistorian Says:

    Fellow museum worker & sufferer. I worked alone, all day, a museum while coworkers were having an affair. This museum didn’t even have a restroom, and I once had to give a tour to 200 (!) students by.myself. Believe me, this whole dignified world of museum work idea is not what it’s cracked up to be.

  21. Daniella Zalcman Says:

    Well that’s just the shittiest. I’m very sorry that you went through this (and I hope you’re healing quickly!) and I will tell everyone I know to avoid the Tenement Museum like the plague.

  22. reverendjen Says:

    Jenny, I can’t find their blog!

  23. Bdole Says:

    I will happily never visit that museum again.

    You should photograph the sidewalk you tripped on and sue, they will settle and at the very least you’ll get something – and they’ll probably fix the sidewalk. It’s an open and shut case.

    I’m sure the injury lawyer can recommend a labor lawyer too. The museum will likely fabricate paperwork to try to cover their asses.

  24. dolly Says:

    Hi Jen! I am a Tour Guide and pass by every day. Rest assured that I will spread the word. And that jerk that answered, although entitled to his opinion, is a pompous ass! Sometimes some people just don’t have a clue, how hard it can be to do what you love. So your perseverance is admirable.
    Stay tuned as this will get very interesting, I am sure.
    I am very disappointed in the Tenement Museums unprofessional way of handling their employees and saddened because of what they represent!
    My Unique colleagues will have plenty to say………….
    Good Luck!

  25. Hollywoodwriter Says:


  26. GoToaster Says:

    Go to your National Labor Relations Board regional office. As soon as humanly possible. Bring as much documentation as you can, even if it’s just hand-written notation about who said what on which day and at which time to whom. This is exactly the kind of disgusting behavior they work to provide recourse against. You shouldn’t have to just sit back and take BS like that and neither should anyone else. Best of luck!

  27. Linda Pierce Says:

    I would drop a line to Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gilibrand and let them know what kind of organization it really is as they are both trustees. I will def be sending the Museum an email letting them know why I will discourage folks from attending. I was layed off last summer from my job at a methadone clinic where I had worked for 24 years because they had budget cuts and I, being the senior nurse, made the most money. My co-workers all agreed to give up one day a week to allow them to keep me but they refused. Luckily I was only out of work for 4 weeks. Good luck to you dear.

  28. Tim h Says:

    For law help go try Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. They’ve been pretty great to me in the past.

  29. david Says:

    If they’ll just change their name to Museum of Abusive Labor Pratices, everything will be cool again.( Press this buzzer in the wall. Watch a Nike worker half-a-world away get a small electric shock. Cost $1 (I have too many ideas)).

  30. Kevin McWha Steele Says:

    Hey, Jen,

    I don’t know you, but I read your story here. I’d say seek legal counsel. Sounds fishy. In the meantime, grab a job working sales for a non-profit broadway house like RoundAbout, BAM, or Jazz at Lincoln. They could use someone with your dedication.

  31. guarsh Says:

    Amazing that you lasted that long with those creeps. They tried to force a friend of mine to sell his family’s tenement building to them a few years ago so they could expand the museum (They would eventually take the corner instead). Imagine that, a museum telling you that they wanted to take over the building that your family had passed on for generations.

    Anyhow, heal fast, and stay strong.

  32. Paul Armand Lessard Says:

    Talk to a lawyer. Sue them for everything they’re worth… Then let me borrow a few bucks,.. No but seriously, you should really look into some legal action, doesn’t sound too kosher. Do it.

  33. Rob Says:

    Halfway through reading your blog entry, I decided to boycott the Tenement Museum. I wish we could take up a collection to pay for your seeing a doctor.

  34. old_massa Says:

    lol, you got fired because you are old and ugly.

  35. Joseph Says:

    Artists, be they dancers, sculptors, misicians, painters…I’m sure I’m leaving folks out so, pardon me, have a very hard road to travel. The starving artist is alive and reasonably well but man, it’s tough. You grab a job to help subsidize your Art and pay a bill or two and you get slammed. This is the World today. Graduates can’t find work and are living with their parents and those that are trying are faced with a terrible work atmosphere. I wish you all the best as you move forward.

  36. Chuck Says:

    I sent in a e-mail to complain about how you were treated.

  37. Pierrot Carrilero Says:

    And “the jungle” by Upton Sinclair is still relevant…thank you for initiating so many people to this part of the history of New York.. I am saddened you have to live/relive it…

  38. Travis Alex Says:

    Real shame the state of the world we are in these days. Truly. I’m not from NY myself, but I don’t have to be from there to feel your pain. You do more for less, you pay more for less, and get treated like your garbage because “You can be replaced” or your seen as “Expendable”

    I’m currently in MA, and more so then often, I was released from work for reasons that were very questionable and quite sketchy. All MA residents suffer from “The Employee at will act”, where you can quit for any reason at any time, and be fired for any reason at any time, which in many cases you can’t fight against because of it.

    Last 2 jobs I was laid off from were food service jobs. I was working roughly 70 hours a week, no free time, no health insurance, no dental, no sick days, doubles 5+ days a week. We had to look our best, wear nice clothes all the time (pressed and ironed white shirts and white aprons). I worked with the flu and 2 colds multiple times while handling peoples food because I was not allowed to “give a shift to anyone the day before”.

    The job market is a joke and remains a joke in this country. People in power who abuse it, people who have positions who don’t deserve them.

    Keep your head up and stay strong. I am sorry about what happened to you.

  39. Glenn Belverio (@GlennBelverio) Says:

    You can get access to healthcare at Bellevue Hospital. You pay on a sliding scale. The downside is you often have to wait weeks to get an appointment but once you’re in with a regular specialist, it’s easier to get appointments–and the care is excellent.

    • reverendjen Says:

      I go to gouverner. It’s part of bellevue, but yeah, the wait is atrocious. I get a physical and bloodwork once a year and basically have to wait months to get it.

      • Auchs Says:

        You may want to try Sidney Hillman/ Institute for Family Health clinic 16 east on 16th St- they can set you up with a social worker to tackle the health insurance issue–ObamaCare, medicaid, Health First, etc. I now have dental, opthamologist, podiatrist, gastroenterolgist, mammogram, and mental health, etc covered. I love books and have a MFA in painting, so I get the situation you are in. Your writing shows you have a marketable skill set, hopefully.

  40. Ken Margolies Says:

    I teach labor studies here in NYC and even took a class to the Tenement Museum. One of the students emailed your blog entry on getting fired to the whole class. Have the workers at the museum ever considered unionizing? That would be the most effective way to correct the kinds of injustices you wrote about. Unfortunately, there are no laws against what they did to you unless you can show that you were fired because you are part of a “protected” group as defined by anti-discrimination laws or were fired for trying to organize a union or report a safety violation. If you want some advice (no charge) on your rights (or lack of) let me know here and give me an email address or some other way to send you my email address and/or office phone number.

  41. federico savini Says:

    boicot we will

  42. Carol Lawrence Says:

    Shame on you and your treatment of dedicated employees. I wonder which of YOU will be the next to go? You think you’re irreplaceable…hahaha. A million people could do what you do and many could do it much better I’m sure. Your head is on the chopping block just like your other co-workers. I wouldn’t rest on my laurels if were you. What goes around comes around and you’re going down, sooner or later. Good luck with that!

    • GoToaster Says:

      Who the heck are you talking to???

      • Nancy Neon Says:

        Carol Lawrence must be sending an open letter to the management and employees of the Tenement Museum. Good luck to you ,Rev Jen. A job I’ve sometimes worked in the past is raising money for progressive causes, but this gig isn’t as good as it once was with the economy being bad and people being more adverse to receiving phone calls at home even if you represent a group that they have membership in. Keep fighting the good fight! Nancy Neon

  43. Bartmann Says:

    First of all it wouldn’t be fair make a judgement here because we have only heard your side of the story. But there are several questions that your story raises:

    First, you had been working at the Museum since 2001. That’s twelve years of your life. Why did you stay so long? Did you consider your employment at the museum a career or merely a job?

    Second, this year, when your schedule was shifted to Friday – Monday, it seems like that should have been the final straw; yet you continued working there. What made working for the Museum good enough for decide to stay for 12 years?

    • reverendjen Says:

      I got to sell and read books. They are what I am most passionate about. Also, given I went to art school and graduated in painting, I don’t have a whole lot of marketable skills and have always lived in fear of losing my apartment and what little income I have. My dog and cat need to be fed. It’s that simple and the reason you haven’t heard their side of the story = they were in the wrong.

    • reverendjen Says:

      And the fact that though my face was bloodied and I was in pain yet they told me I needed a mental health day and didn’t see that I was in need of a doctor should make it obvious to anyone with a conscience that they were in the wrong. Maybe I accepted not having medical or other benefits because until I fell, I didn’t realize just how handy they are. Any more questions? They should have actually taken me to a hospital. They were negligent.

    • dmoney Says:

      dude, regardless of what their side of the story is, you dont fire a 12 year employee without a damn good fucking reason, especially if you never gave her health insurance, that kind of shit should be totally criminal

  44. Bartmann Says:

    @reverendjen – Thank you for your answers. I look forward to reading future adventures of an underachieving visionary.

  45. dbrklynboy Says:

    I worked at bookstores for many years (6 of them in 5 states), for something not even resembling a living wage. Because I love books, being around books, and being around people that love being around books. Many large and small companies capitalize on this, knowing that artists will work for nothing because of the fever that occupies our brains just being around what we love more than money.

    I wish you the best of luck, there are people out their who appreciate artists and will pay them for their dedication.

  46. Anne Says:

    They sure did not want you up in the bookstore flaunting their lack of health insurance. They need to be shamed. And I think you have a wrongful termination case.
    Good luck finding something BETTER.

  47. Former Tenementer Says:

    This sucks. You should sue. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think they can fire you for having a scar on your face.

    Cleary Gottleib is a huge Manhattan law firm with a large pro bono practice. They represent all kinds of people form domestic abuse victims to socially good startups with no funding. Look at and call the pro bono coordinator. Tell them you have little income and you think your employer fired you improperly.

    – A former tenementer who always had a bad feeling about Barry.

  48. xaviertrevino Says:

    I just went through my own labor dispute trauma, I do have a union, but the best they could do was retain me as a demotion, and a less desirable shift. Corporate america is a real vampire, sucking the life out of people and discarding them when they near the end of tier usefulness. Good luck, and don’t despair, life goes on and there are plenty of good people out there.

  49. shadowgraph Says:

    My experience with the museum was the same. As important as their service is, they are capricious and disrespectful in their labor policies. I was one of the most popular TGs of my day, and trainees were frequently assigned to me as part of their prep. Then, suddenly, I had no job. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, the Spring of 2002, when the entire tourism industry was on it’s knees. I was fired for making an inappropriate statement on a tour, but no one could tell me what that alleged statement was. My supervisor was clearly unhappy with having to terminate me and did recommend I reapply at a later date. I wasn’t going to, but finally did in (I think) 2008 when hours at my other employments were being reduced. I was informed then that I would not ever be rehired as long as the controlling board had it’s (then) current leadership. The main villain seems to have been Ruth Abram, whose criminal arrogance was best demonstrated by her manipulation of eminent domain when she tried to seize a neighbors lawful property. She’d made a low-ball bid on the next door building, been rejected, and then filed demonstrably false charges that renovations to the targeted building were undermining the foundations of the landmark. She was stealing people’s homes with greater shamelessness than the gentrifiers who were erasing the history LESTM is dedicated to preserving. How she and the museum survived that scandal I will never know.

  50. anna sage Says:

    You had me until your response to Hello World’s perfectly reasonable question. To say “You can go ahead and write another comment, have the last word but I guarantee it will be stupid. ” is childish, petty, and full of attitude.

    When Bartmann mentions we’ve only heard your side of the story, you reply ” the reason you haven’t heard their side of the story = they were in the wrong.” which makes no sense at all. We have no right to hear the other side and make our own decisions?

    I’m also an uninsured artist, I live in NYC, I know how hard it can be, but life is too short to work in a soul-sucking place.There are other places where you can sell books. Or suck it up and work someplace else.

    I would most certainly like to hear the other side of this story. Something doesn’t sound kosher here. I hope you can back up your side of the story, because you’ve opened yourself up to one hell of a libel suit.

    Now go ahead and have the last word, because “I guarantee it will be stupid” (do you see how foolish and truculent that sounds?).

    I wish the best for you, but I think you’ve made some poor choices and are now making poorer ones.

    • reverendjen Says:

      Anna, is your real name Barry?

      • anna sage Says:

        No, Jen, my real name is Diane (hence Anna). I have no connection to the museum or anyone there. Do you have a habit of being rude to and attacking people who question you in any way, as you’ve done 3 times here alone? Are you paranoid?

        I’ve just spent the afternoon reading your entire blog, and it seems you get victimized a lot. You sound needy, angry and admit you do drugs. You’re always broke, and yet you can afford trips overseas. If you are so broke you cannot pay your Con Ed, you probably shouldn’t own a dog. They cost money to feed and as you’ve learned, if you’re careless and leave needles on the floor they might eat, treatment is very expensive. I’d love a pet but can’t afford one.

        As I said, I work as an artist myself, and since I can’t make a living at that, I pick up side jobs. I don’t have the benefit of a rent-controlled apartment like you do, but I would not be working for people who treat me badly. I’d report them to the proper authorities and then probably move on.

        You are being really unreasonable to tell your side of the tale and expect us to believe it unquestionably, without knowing anything at all about the other side.

        Perhaps you should see the therapist you admit you need )in other parts of your blog), since you seem to think your life is so awful.

        If I were you, I would delete this blog post asap, b/c if you can’t prove what you’re saying, you could be sued for libel and defamation. If you want to attack me for that, go ahead. I’m sorry for what you’re going through.

        Good luck.

      • reverendjen Says:

        If you just spent the entire afternoon reading my blog, you obviously find my life fascinating and you obviously have a lot more free time than I do. I don’t get “victimized” a lot, as you suggested but in this case, I was treated poorly by managers and fired after a physical injury. I hope you never get picked for a rape jury. You would probably blame the victim for wearing a short skirt. Your lack of empathy means that not only are you likely a bad artist, you are also a bad human. Read up on labor reform and then read up on being a human. Hope you are capable of it because as your grammar suggests you are close to illiterate.

    • rob Says:

      Anna — It’s worth bearing in mind that the TM has a deplorable institutional history. It tried to use eminent domain to demolish the building next door displacing all its residents in order to appropriate the lot, and would have succeeded were it not for the high-profile protests of the laborers in Congee Village that shared the basement of the buildling.

      The TM fought tooth and nail against the unioization of its tour guides, the same tour guides that are required to recount the history of the labor movement to TM tourists. They are still without a union. The TM steals the tour guides’ tips under the guise that the guides are not allowed to be tipped and tourists must donate to the Museum instead. The TM, in short, is disgusting.

      These facts are well-known locally. I can’t fault you for not knowing what much of Jen’s audience probably already knows, but consider how institutions respond with ‘their’ side in a dispute, and consider the character of this institution in particular. If’ you’ve had consistent interaction with large institutions, you know that their side is always lawyered-up spin. So there may be other sides to a story, but you won’t get an honest one from the TM.

      There is little likelihood of a libel suit, since the TM would be buried in mud quickly. That Jen has written freely about what happened implies that it is fact, otherwise she’d be facing a formidable institutional legal response and, having worked there for years, she’d know that.

      • reverendjen Says:

        And if I were to be sued for “libel”, which won’t happen because I’ve said nothing untrue, there’s nothing they can take from me. I was left with 18 bucks in the bank.

      • anna sage Says:

        Fair enough, Rob, but how do you explain RevJen’s personal attacks on me? She has deleted or not posted my own responses, and ironically made a nasty comment about how I, a rape victim myself, would be a bad jury member in a rape trial. Of course, you’ll never see this, b/c she only wants her side to be represented.

      • rob Says:

        Then you know that when someone is made the victim of injustice, especially institutional injustice where all the perpetrators are supported by a thick wall of callousness and empowered indifference, feelings of rightful indignation and just anger are deeply piercing and raised to the surface like an open wound. I can’t speak for Jen, but you asked me, and I can speak for my own experiences with institutions, personal and observational.

        If I wanted to ask whether your rapist was justified, and whether you invited it or invented it, I wouldn’t ask you the day after your alleged rape (that stinging word “alleged”). It would be both insensitive and unproductive — I should have been able to predict both the answer from you and the effect on you. The person to ask is the rapist (but you know what he’d say) and then consult the court proceedings, bearing in mind always that he said/she said will not be consistent, and at some point one has to evaluate the parties on ones own understanding of them and ones own judgment. So if you want to hear both sides, ask the TM. But as I mentioned, you’ll get an institutional spin of no informational value to you. As I say, I can’t fault you for not knowing what a deplorable institution the TM has been, but maybe with the background I gave in the last comment, the best option for information would be researching the TM’s treatment of labor.

  51. Earl Ay Cheffield Says:

    Sounds like a shit job workin with a bunch of assholes. Better off out of there if you ask me.

  52. imagfoto Says:

    So sorry for your what has happened to you.

  53. Neighborhood Guy Says:

    I don’t know you, but have seen you perform. If I had known that you worked at the Museum I would have stopped in and chatted you up. Now, I will never go there again. I went on the tour once and thought it was weird because the tour guide made a big deal about how hard it was for the immigrants to live there, but the horrific tenement was actually nicer than my apartment. Seemed like I could make spare cash by giving tours of my own apartment for tourists and recount tales of living in the horror of an East Village studio. Anyway, I hope you find a new place to work that gives employees health insurance. You’re better than that place.

  54. Neighborhood Guy Says:

    I will take future out-of-town guests on tours of the Troll Musuem rather than the fraudulent Tenement Museum and their stinky labor policies and overwrought tourguide script. The organization sounds like a front for over-reaching wealthy Real Estate trolls. I just read somewhere else that they’ve tried to use Eminent Domain to take over other buildings in the neighborhood. Between that and the Labor abuses, the place should have their non-profit status revoked and they should be shut down.

  55. Marcy Says:

    Hey Rev. Jen–First sending some healing vibes–glad the omega stuff is working. Next a howdy from me and my older daughter H. (a while back my girls–my little one was an infant then–came on down to your awesome Troll Museum with your waggytail friend G.S. (not sure about posting names and such here) but anyway, we’ve also visited with you at the Tenement Museum at least a few times since then and and are totally horrified at their rat-like behavior in sacking you. Ironic of course that a museum whose mission is to invoke sympathy for and depict the struggles of tenement dwelling L.E.S. denizens would so horrible treat its own struggling tenement-dwelling L.E.S. denizens (most of which happen to be working artists).
    So…Last, but not least, I’m going to send a not-so-nice letter to the Tenement Museum about them sacking you and I’ll also share what they did with the homeschool community as we are often bringing our kids on tours and group field trips at the Tenement Museum and this will totally change my views of the museum and perhaps those of others too.

    Oh, my younger daughter (now 5) is a but troll (and wishnik) fan–if the Troll Museum is still up and running I would love to bring her (maybe you can email me off-list for how to arrange).

    Anyway, again sending healing vibes to you and a stink eye at the Tenement Museum. Feel better!
    Marcy and kids….

    • reverendjen Says:

      Thank you and yes, the Troll Museum is still “running” though now it is occupies by a very large cat, who, funny enough, was found at the Tenement Museum with his head stuck between the door and outside pillar. My coworker Marc helped him get out of that situation. I put up a hundred posters with his picture on it and no one claimed him. He obviously wanted to occupy my home!

      • Marcy Says:

        Yay! Happy to hear it’s still up and running. We will visit and look forward to trolls when you are feeling better. Glad the cat is also a troll fan and has clearly recovered from his own trauma at the Tenement Museum.

  56. Kevin B. Says:

    Hey Rev, so sorry to hear that. Please let me know if I can do anything for you. I had a blast interviewing you and many others down there, but I guess I won’t be around much, either, as the museum has largely canceled its author reading series in favor of bringing in busloads of out-of-towners for shopping trips. Strange move for a cultural institution. I just want to say that, and also how wonderful it is now that you can’t so much as grouse about your boss or your job without some idiot Ayn Rand acolyte writing in to say how you should just shut up and move on. Back in the Great Depression, an American workingman was famously quoted as saying that he was voting for FDR because, “He understands that my boss is a son-of-a-bitch.” Now, alas, it seems we’re a country full of these little toadies convinced that any drone with a middle management job is a demi-god. Sad days. Hope you’re feeling better.

    • reverendjen Says:

      So well put. I knew things were going downhill when they cancelled the reading series. During the “Warmth of Other Suns” event I was actually moved to tears. And it was through that series that I got to meet Frank McCourt, something I’ll never forget. The idiot Ayn Rand acolytes can blather all they like. It actually helps the workingman (or elf’s) cause.

  57. Matthew Cummings (@citywalksnytour) Says:

    I will not only boycott them but will stop by to tell them WHY I won’t be bringing my guests there any longer!

  58. rob Says:

    For what it’s worth, Jen, the TM has long had a bad rep among locals — from trying to use eminent domain to resisting unionization — and you have an impeccable rep among locals. People don’t forget.

  59. Ella Says:

    So sorry to hear that you were mistreated at work. And sorry to hear that you are now out of a job. Make certain to apply for unemployment right away. And also take care of yourself emotionally. Surround yourself with supportive people. Do whatever it takes to heal, because you have been wounded, but you’re going to be alright. You might want to talk to a lawyer to see if there is any legal action you can take to lodge a complaint against your former employer for their unjust actions.

    I’m posting a link here that I found on Stop Work Place Bullies.
    Find the Right Employment Lawyer with LegalMatch

  60. Sassy Spinster Says:

    So sorry to hear this happened to you.
    Really awful, yet unsurprised, that the Tenement is worsening in its absurdist ironies and injustices (I, too, was there during the anti- union-smack down with the educators).

    I agree with Ella in considering legal action. I think you’d have a case- did you save those messages from them since the time of your accident?

    Also, you’re a superstar! Take it to the media. I wholeheartedly think poor publicity and PR may be the only way the Museum would change its policies and treatment of their workers (hopefully for the better).

    This might be a last resort if legal action goes nowhere – dunno what the best strategy would be, but certainly I know RevJen does NOT go down without a FIGHT! 🙂

    -Sassy Spinster

    • reverendjen Says:

      Thank you. Everyone who once worked there has been kind and supportive. Have already spoken w/ one labor lawyer and NY labor laws suck but will keep trying. When I spoke to Ruth she asked me what my goal was and I said “to keep my job” but now I know there are much better things. However, they have mistreated so many employees that my new goal is to call as much media attention to their unfair labor policies as possible. When the educators tried to unionize I had great respect for them. It was the right thing to do. I still love so many of my former coworkers there, it sucks that they are under the thumb of the mass firings right now. Hopefully those who are responsible for them will soon join me in the unemployment line. Worst thing about this: “Don’t take something that ain’t broken and try to fix it.” They have fired practically everyone who worked hard to help the museum grow. Well, writing articles right now so life isn’t so bad. I just hope I can find something steady.

  61. Felix Etienne-Edouard Pfeifle Says:

    Last year I taught a class in Urban Planning that covered tenement housing in NY for one week, so when I moved to the LES from CA this year, I thought, oh wow–I want to go to the museum. I’ll now boycott it for some time–so much for the legacy of the people who once inhabited those buildings with the museum’s Dickensian employment policies.

    Unlike some of the cynical Debbie Downers writing here, accusing you of the strangest transgressions (whiner, angry drug user, loafer), I find your account compelling and completely reasonable and I’m impressed by the graciousness with which you dismiss these blog adversaries of less than generous spirit.

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