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Mattress Factory Executive Director Put On Leave

Bill O'Driscoll
90.5 WESA

Michael Olijnyk, the executive director of the Mattress Factory, is being placed on paid leave immediately.

That’s according to statement from the museum’s board of directors. The statement reads, “this pro forma action is in response to [National Labor Relations Board] charges filed against the museum…” On Monday, one current and three former employees of the Mattress Factory filed a complaint about the contemporary art museum on the North Side with the NLRB. The document alleges that museum management retaliated against workers who, in May, criticized the handling of claims of sexual harassment, assault and rape by a male former staffer.

The board also says that it will appoint a yet-unnamed acting director to run the museum in the interim. It states that it has launched an investigation and is cooperating with the NLRB in its investigation.

The announcement comes on the heels of news that a portion of a local art museum’s Regional Asset District funding might be in jeopardy following charges that management retaliated against employees there.

The statement regarding the leadership of the Mattress Factory.

The employees said that supervisors including the museum then-co-director Michael Olijnyk verbally abused some critics, threatened their jobs, or otherwise retaliated against them. That could violate federal labor law. The charges of sexual misconduct, the museum's response, and the alleged retaliation were detailed in a WESA investigation released Tuesday. (Olijnyk was promoted to executive director in June.)

The labor-board complaint is a civil, not a criminal matter.

RAD requires that grant recipients comply with all federal, state and local laws, and not be subject to any actions or proceedings that could hinder their operations. The NLRB filing came well after the museum submitted its 2019 RAD funding application.

The Mattress Factory has a budget of $1.9 million.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: