Fired North Miami Museum Director Sues City for Wrongful Termination

He claims the case against him is "abhorrent and contrived."

Babacar M'Bow. Photo: courtesy Periodismo Sin Fronteras.

Former Museum of Contemporary, North Miami art director Babacar M’Bow has sued the city for wrongful termination. He was fired from his post in December in response to allegations that he had sexually harassed an employee.

Prior to his termination, M’Bow was placed on paid administrative leave in response to sexual harassment claims. The complaint again him detailed a number of sexually-inappropriate remarks M’Bow was alleged to have made to employees during his tenure as museum director.

The new complaint names North Miami’s deputy city manager, Arthur Sorey III, and its personnel administration director, Joseph Roglieri Jr., as defendants. It characterizes M’Bow’s termination as an “unlawful deprivation of M’Bow’s due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.”

The letter informing MOCA North Miami director Babacar M'Bow of the allegations against him. Photo: via Local 10.

The letter informing MOCA North Miami director Babacar M’Bow of the allegations against him.
Photo: via Local 10.

“This case is about the city’s unlawful and political attempt to use false, baseless, and banal accusations of sexual misconduct to ruin the reputation and career of an unwitting man,” the complaint states about M’Bow. The “abhorrent and contrived accusations of a disgruntled, difficult, and unscrupulous employee,” as the allegations are characterized, “were mysteriously spoon-fed to local, national, and international media outlets as a basis to remove M’Bow from his post.”

Tiffany Madera, the museum’s outreach and programming manager, accused M’Bow of inquiring about her sex life, and of talking about the size of his genitalia, among other inappropriate comments. M’Bow denied making such statements, claiming, “I have strong feminist politics” in an interview with city investigators. He says Madera fabricated her claims because she was about to be fired.

M’Bow is demanding a hearing with the city’s personnel board, where he hopes to challenge the accusations against him. The new lawsuit argues that M’Bow was a city employee, and is entitled to a hearing under the city’s civil service rules, which allow appeals for termination without just cause.

Babacar M'Bow. Photo: Suzanne Isa/Isa Design.

Babacar M’Bow.
Photo: Suzanne Isa/Isa Design.

North Miami officials hired M’Bow in 2014 while the museum’s board of trustees was suing the city for breach of contract. The museum board subsequently rejected the appointment, leaving M’Bow and the existing museum leadership at odds.

By the year’s end, the MOCA board had departed to form Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in the Design District, taking much of the institution’s art collection with it and leaving M’Bow in charge. During the dispute, the museum board made an official complaint to the city about his “highly aggressive, antagonistic, and vicious statements.”

Despite such past controversies, the complaint notes that “M’Bow does not have any disciplinary history at all.” It argues that if “given the opportunity to contest and challenge the unsworn accusations asserted against him” he might be reinstated to his post.

artnet News reached out to M’Bow, his legal team, and Sorey for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

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