Suspended Musicians Sue New York Philharmonic

The renewed interest in the incident follows an article from New York Magazine.

By: May. 02, 2024
Suspended Musicians Sue New York Philharmonic
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Matthew Muckey, associate principal trumpet, and Liang Wang, principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic, have filed federal lawsuits against both the orchestra and the musicians’ union Local 802. The legal action, submitted to the Southern District of New York, comes after a series of complex events involving allegations from 14 years ago.

In 2018, Muckey and Wang were first dismissed from the orchestra following allegations of sexual misconduct. However, in 2020, after a binding arbitration favored by their union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, both were reinstated. The Philharmonic expressed its disappointment at the time: “We are profoundly disappointed by the arbitrator’s decision,” but acknowledged, “we will, as we must, abide by the arbitrator’s ruling.”

Despite their reinstatement, the pair were removed from the orchestra again in April following renewed interest in the allegations after an article was published in New York Magazine, which prompted a new investigation into the orchestra’s culture.

The plaintiffs are now seeking to regain their positions and are asking for unspecified damages due to what they allege as breach of contract. Steven Hyman, representing Muckey, expressed frustration with the ongoing situation, stating, “The matter has been investigated and put to bed and it is time for it to end. The fact is the Philharmonic has acted inappropriately and the union in some ways even worse. Matt should be back working at the Philharmonic again. It’s unfortunate if the donors and trustees find it uncomfortable but that’s what the judicial system has determined.”

Alan Lewis, Wang’s attorney, criticized the union’s current stance, saying, “Local 802 has not stood up for its loyal member, Liang Wang, even when he has been subject to mistreatment from his employer – without being accused of anything.”

In response to the lawsuit, the Philharmonic’s CEO Gary Ginstling circulated an email to its members which reiterated the importance of the ongoing investigation: “Nothing is more important than the culture of our orchestra and the safety of our musicians and staff, and it is only through this process that we will build the kind of vibrant and inclusive culture we all want.”

The orchestra's players' committee previously expressed solidarity with Ms. Kizer, stating, "It is the overwhelming sentiment from the orchestra that we believe Cara," and urged the management to foster a safer work environment. 

Photo Credit: Michael Moran