Tenement Museum Fires Longtime Employee And Would Not Say Why


The Tenement Museum, an institution dedicated to educating visitors on the lives of New York's turn-of-the-century working class, allegedly axed one of its part-time employees after she injured her face.

Jen Miller, better known by her stage name, Reverend Jen, wrote yesterday on her blog that she was unceremoniously canned from her job at the visitor's center after she tripped while walking to get coffee last week, "smashing her face in."

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.

She went on to write that on Tuesday, she was called in to meet with the museum's director of operations, who told her she was terminated. He also, reportedly, refused to give a reason.

Bowery Boogie reported earlier this week that more than 10 employees "ranging from full time to per diem at this neighborhood institution have been forced to resign, were fired or bullied until they had no option except quitting."

Kira Garcia, the museum's public relations manager, said that while she could not speak about specific personnel issues, the blog post penned by Miller was, in a word, unsubstantiated.

"There have been some unsubstantiated claims made on some blogs, and those unsubstantiated claims are unfounded," she said, declining to elaborate on the basis of employee privacy.

Miller also wrote that, as a part-time employee working 30 hours per week, she did not receive health insurance or sick days. In 2008, Tenement Museum workers pushed to unionize, though they never did, a representative with Local 2110 told us.

Garcia disagreed with the claim that the museum's employees have been mistreated.

"We believe our pay and benefit package is highly competitive and fair," she said.

Contact the author of this article or email tips@gothamist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

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  • $52368102



  • George F

    She is a pretty well known city resident. I think that is why it was reported. They asked the museum for their side of the story and printed their statement. I don't think there is a side being taken, it is just that Rev. Jen is saying a lot, and the PR people are not getting sucked into a drawn out discussion. So it may seem like Gothamist is airing one side, when in reality the other side is keeping their mouth shut ( which is always a good starting point).

  • $52368102

    Indeed. "Well known" is only relative to small clicks and geographies at this point, especially in this city. 

    If you understand her motives in a larger sense, they're mostly self-glorifying. I'm sure bunch of mis-treated individuals working their jobs everyday -  deserve a podium to speak injustice. Perhaps Gothamist can think about that.

    And not a veiled PR bump. 

    But agreed. 

  • TWaller

    Yes, everyone is special and unique and a genius and deserves twenty million dollars a year.

  • topstep

    A close friend of mine has worked at the museum for many years and is always telling me what a freakin' nut bar this Jen gal is. I have it on good authority this axing was a long time coming.

    (Despite this, I'm sure self-titled "Rev. Jen" will continue to tell anyone who'll listen that she was "fired for NO REASON!!")

  • Lorne Newman

    My grandparents lived in the Lower East Side 100 years ago.  The Tenement Museum management sound just as bad as the sweatshop owners from that era.  No health insurance?  No sick days?  Fuck them!

  • AScoutingLife

    Google "triangle shirtwaist".  

  • Bernie_Geotz_Squirrel_Luv

    For some reason, I've always got a bad vibe from this place.
    The next class trip to the museum, I'll volunteer as chaperone.
    I've noticed they have been getting a lot of media airtime so they must be doing something right to get that much exposure. They're on CSPAN a lot.
    I'm hoping the Henry Street Settlement isn't like this.

  • Lorne Newman

    The Museum staff must think they really are a tenement.  Treating workers like it's the 19th century. 

  • TheOtherBob

    I like the concept of this museum, but...damn, some of the people working there are fucking weird. I had the misfortune of getting a tour guide last time who demanded that our tour group of six people engage in an "interactive" tour -- even when it was abundantly clear that no one wanted to do so.  This is really hard to put into words, but imagine the creepiest guy you know.  Got him in your head?  Ok, now imagine 90 minutes with him asking a small group over and over and over and over and over and over and over again to name something that a bartender might use in his daily tasks, while everyone in the group stares at their toes hoping the creep will just shut up and not call on them.  

    I distinctly remember one question -- "why might a bar in the 1800s have a trombone behind the bar?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Why might a bar in the 1800s want to have a trombone?  Anyone have any ideas?  Anyone?  Anyone?  A trombone in a bar -- why would they want that?  Anyone have any thoughts to share?  Any thoughts?  Anyone?"  It was all I could do to not stage a tour group revolt right there and then -- dude, no one in the group knows why they had a motherfuckin' trombone behind the motherfuckin' bar, and if they do, they're not answering, so just...fuckin...gah!  

    I swear, Mrs. Bob was about to stab him -- I was literally holding her back.  He called on her for something -- one of his inane questions -- and Mrs. Bob does NOT like being called on.  (Mrs. Bob has also been known to cut a bitch, so...I was getting worried.)  It was awful.

  • bluecanary1

    Based on that story alone, I won't be visiting this place.The whole experience sounds horrific.

  • Mr Mel

    Especially if the Bobs are there.

  • George F

    God forbid a tour guide uses the Socratic method  to impart some knowledge of the LES in the 1800's . Just read about it on wikipedia on your iPad while at Starbucks if just saying " No radio?" to a stranger is too much to handle. Christ, this city is full of awkward jack-offs.

  • sluggita

    Wow, just a little poking around turned up this:

    trying to steal a family building via eminent domain, what flaming, arrogant tools. I hope some journalist puts all this together and does an expose', it's an appalling story in total.

    Boycott the Tenement Museum!

  • Cindy Lou

    I read about as much of her blog as I could stomach and have little sympathy for her. Aside from appearing delusional about her own talents, her posts are rife with "whoa is me". She doesn't seem to understand basic adult responsibility. She is going over the top to represent herself as a struggling artist, as if it somehow gives her art more validity.

  • swangasnvogues

    many people simply label those types as "liberals", it communicates all of the above and more.

  • sluggita

    I also read a bunch of posts, she's actually involved in many projects, and an amusing writer and engaged artist. I have no idea how you interpreted Rev Jen's blog that way. For the record, I don't know her, never even met her or saw her perform. Do you work for the "museum" CIndy Lou"? As a manager there? *snort*

  • Cindy Lou

    No, I just can't abide the whole "poor me, I'm always a victim" shit.

  • sluggita

    I missed that entirely.

  • Cindy Lou

    I don't have any association with her or the museum, so I'm coming from a completely unbiased perspective. She had twelve years to find a different job if indeed the museum was such a horrible place to work. She was politely asked several clarifying questions and was ungracious and rude. She seems oblivious that being asked to work in the basement rather than with visitors was a very reasonable request considering her face was broken. Maybe she is a lovely in real life, but her internet persona is whiney and self involved, and if you have the gumption to refer to yourself as an "art star" and writer, you better bring the goods to support it.  

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