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Retaliation claims jeopardize the hiring of Nancy Yao at Smithsonian

The Smithsonian’s New American Women’s History Museum is re-evaluating its hiring of Nancy Yao as its founding director, reports the Washington Post.

The museum says it hired the Mintz Group to undertake “a more comprehensive review of the underlying facts and will reevaluate the situation once that is complete.”

The announcement followed an inquiry by the Post into the settlement of three retaliation claims filed by employees of the Museum of Chinese Americans where Yao served as executive director for more than seven years.

RELATED: Director of Museum of Chinese Am to leave for Smithsonian

The employees alleged they were fired by Yao for filing sexual harassment claims against two men at MOCA.

The Smithsonian told the Post it looked into the allegations prior to hiring Yao, but would now reopen its investigation and that “We take these allegations seriously and want to ensure a fair and more comprehensive review.”

Yao’s tenure at MOCA was filled with controversy. Opponents of a new multi-story jail in New York’s Chinatown accused MOCA of accepting a $35 million grant from the city in exchange for its support of the new jail.

RELATED: New York’s MOCA reopens despite protests against gentrification

MOCA’s board co-chair Jonathan Chu, a landlord, is accused of gentrifying New York’s Chinatown and pushing out the popular dim sum restaurant, Jing Fong.

Hyperallergic recently published an op-ed entitled Nancy Yao will not be missed.

Referencing both the jail controversy and Chu, Youth Against Displacement wrote “MOCA puts on its Chinese face to be the spokesperson for the City’s racist displacement agenda. It makes the Chinese community look so cheap, creating the impression that we can be easily bought off, and therefore contributes to the anti-Asian violence that’s on the rise today.”

Yao described the settlements to the Post as “nuisance agreements” and said “Any allegations can be made without proof.”

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