Monthly Archives: October 2019

I raised my credit score by 134 points in less than a year thanks to 7 steps

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Maridav/Shutterstock.com

  • At the beginning of the year, I had a credit score of 568 out of 850, a score lenders would consider to be bad, and which wouldn’t secure me favorable rates.
  • To increase my score, I started by figuring out exactly how much credit card debt I had and where, and created myself a digital budget using a spreadsheet.
  • Then, I checked my credit score, fixed an error, decided beforehand how I’d divvy up my monthly paychecks, reined in the spending, increased my credit card payments, and took on a side hustle to make more money to put toward my debt.
  • Now, my score is 702, and I plan to keep building it even more.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Less than a year ago, I was overweight and unmotivated, with a credit score of 568 – which Credit Karma, VantageScore, and FICO all rate as “bad.” I had reached “my bottom” and aggressively changed things – not only have I lost 30 pounds, but I’ve raised my credit score 134 points to 702, which is means my credit score is now considered “good.”

I’m not entirely sure if the two major changes were correlated or not, but they both certainly improved my life in ways that felt impossible beforehand. The process of raising my credit score well over 100 points can be narrowed down to seven steps:

1. I did a self-audit

In January, the first thing I did was examine my credit cards, auto loan, grad school loan, and various personal debts. Here’s what my credit card debt looked like at the beginning of the year:

January 2019

  1. PNC Core: $6,323.57 – 4% APR
  2. American Express: $4,520 – 21.49% APR
  3. Bank of America: $3,012.58 – 22.74% APR
  4. Chase Slate: $1,817.47 – 24.74% APR
  5. Best Buy: $1,580.76 – 26.99% APR
  6. PayPal MasterCard: $696 – 28.74% APR
  7. Macy’s: $392.83 – 27.49% APR
  8. Target RED Card: $244.51 – 24.9% APR
  9. Victoria’s Secret: $41.21 – 26.99% APR

All together, that came out to $18,628.93 (down from my one-time high of about $23,000).

October 2019

  1. PNC Core – $4,604 ($1,719.57 less)
  2. American Express – $228 ($4,292 less)
  3. Bank of America – $2,671 ($341.58 less)
  4. Chase Slate – $1,524.60 ($292.87 less)
  5. Best Buy – $1,311 ($269.76 less)
  6. PayPal MasterCard – $0($696 less)
  7. Macy’s – $0 ($392.83 less)
  8. Target RED Card – $0 ($244.51 less)
  9. Victoria’s Secret – $63 ($21.79 more)

My new total credit card total is $10,401.60 – I paid off $8,227.33 in 10 months.

As for my car loan, I paid it off in May 2019. (When I checked in December, my Honda Civic had $1,582 left of my $16,000 auto loan. Thanks to my monthly payments of $259.26, I was able to pay that off in about six months.)

The majority of my debt is wrapped up in grad school loans. At the beginning of the year, the balance was $32,304.84, and currently, the total is $31,918.58, or just $386.26 less.

Thanks to my massive self-audit, I discovered that I was $52,515.77 in debt between my credit cards, school, and auto loan.

2. I created a digital budget

Next, my fiancé helped me put everything into Google Sheets: all my credit card balances, monthly bills, and upcoming expenses. He created formulas that showed how much money I had left over each month after paying my bills.

This was a game-changer for me. Having everything in one digital place made it easy to adjust my fluctuating expenses each month (if say, I chose a different amount to pay towards my various credit cards). It also gave me immediate accountability since Johnny knew my goals, debts, and expenses.

3. I checked my credit score

When I checked my credit score on January 10, it was 568. Ten months later, it rose 134 points to 702. Half of those points came from the most surprising thing of all:

I was casually perusing my Credit Karma app one night in May when I noticed that I had a $12,000 balance under a Discover account. This freaked me out because I closed my Discover account more than a decade ago.

A Discover operator told me that I was an authorized user on a family member’s account. They immediately removed me and the next day, my credit score went up 50 points!

4. I take payday very seriously

My company pays its employees once a month. As soon as I get paid, I do the following religiously:

  • I pay $1,200 towards my credit cards – I pay the most on my higher balances. (Before, when paying the minimum balance, interest quickly ate up my progress.)
  • I strategize how much I pay towards each card; here’s what I paid in October:
    • $772 towards American Express (21.49% APR) – which used to be one of my largest balances.
    • $173 towards PNC Core (4% APR). The only reason I don’t pay more towards the $4,604 balance is that it has such a low interest rate.
    • $90 towards Bank of America (22.74%)
    • $60 towards Chase Slate (24.74%)
    • $55 towards Best Buy (26.99%)
  • I pay more than the minimum (even if only by a few dollars).
  • I check Credit Karma at least once a month because it keeps me on track and helps me identify red flags.
  • I update my credit card balances in Google Sheets, which always motivates me to keep paying off my debt.

5. I stopped getting more into debt

This past February, Johnny and I enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. That’s also when I stopped using my credit cards.

Even when I paid off several credit cards (Target, Macy’s, and PayPal), I kept my account active to show lenders that I can be responsible with my credit by only utilizing a small percentage of my overall credit limits.

6. I increased the size of my credit card payments

In 2018, I earmarked $300 each month for my credit card debt. I increased that to $915 in February, then $1,200 in June (after my car loan was paid off).

7. I started a side gig

Saving $1,200 a month for credit card debt isn’t easy, especially when planning a wedding. Taking on freelance writing has helped me bring in an extra $200 to $1,200 each month.

I want to buy a house in a few years, but with a “bad” credit score, that would have been difficult. Thanks to the above seven steps, my credit score has been improving like crazy. Hopefully, I’ll be much closer to a score of 850 in another year.

Google made a small but important change in 2017 to how it thinks about ‘Googleyness,’ a key value it looks for in new hires

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Reuters

  • Google updated its definition of “Googleyness,” a factor in the hiring process, The Information reported.
  • Googlers like former head of People Operations Laszlo Bock have defined the term as “enjoying fun,” “intellectual humility,” “comfort with ambiguity,” and other similar traits.
  • Google has clarified in its hiring guide that “Googleyness” should not be confused with cultural fit, which could lead to bias.
  • The concept of “cultural fit” can lead to homogenized workplaces, experts have warned, as managers prioritize hiring people who come from similar workplaces as themselves.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Over the years, Google has rethought how it handles its infamously grueling interview process – in 2013, it admitted that its infamous practice of posing impossible brainteasers to job candidates had been “a complete waste of time.”

But one thing that hasn’t changed at Google is the importance it places on new hires having the so-called quality of “Googleyness,” a vague term that’s had several different definitions over the years. In general, however, it’s been used to having the qualities that make a person successful at the search giant.

However, in 2017, Google made a small, but important, update to its official definition of Googleyness, The Information’s Nick Bastone reported on Thursday. According to The Information, Google changed its hiring manual at the time with a new directive to “avoid confusing Googleyness with culture fit, which can leave room for bias.”

That same year, Google faced a scandal around the firing of former Google engineer James Damore, who claimed that biological differences accounted for the lack of women in tech in a memo that would go on to become viral. The report isn’t clear on whether the change to the definition of Googleyness came before or after that episode.

The concept of “culture fit” used to be standard operating practice in Silicon Valley, as fast-growing companies looked to prioritize hiring only the people that they were sure would gel with the rest of the team. However, that idea has come under fire in more recent years: It can lead to a homogenous workplace as managers let their own biases color their idea of who fits the company, according to HR expert Rachel Bitte.

Cultural fit-based hiring can often lead to workplaces where most people share the same race, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and are usually “skewed in favor of applicants from the most privileged backgrounds,” Bitte said.

At Google, the change, made two years ago, is said to have been slow to propogate across the company. Several employees told the Information that “Googleyness” had long been used interchangably at the company with “cultural fit.”

A Google spokesperson told the Information that Googleyness means what it has always meant, including the ability to work in ambiguity and incorporate feedback. A spokesperson for Google did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

What is Googleyness?

In his 2015 book “Work Rules,” Google’s former Head of People Operations Laszlo Block defined “Googleyness” as:

“Attributes like enjoying fun (who doesn’t), a certain dose of intellectual humility (it’s hard to learn if you can’t admit that you might be wrong), a strong measure of conscientiousness (we want owners, not employees), comfort with ambiguity (we don’t know how our business will evolve, and navigating Google internally requires dealing with a lot of ambiguity), and evidence that you’ve taken some courageous or interesting paths in your life.”

In 2013, an ex-Google employee told Business Insider that “Googley” traits include:

    1. Doing the right thing.
    2. Striving for excellence.
    3. Keeping an eye on the goals
    4. Being proactive.
    5. Going the extra mile.
    6. Doing something nice for others, with no strings attached.
    7. Being friendly and approachable.
    8. Valuing users and colleagues.
    9. Rewarding great performance.
    10. Being humble, and letting go of the ego (at least sometimes).
    11. Being transparent, honest, and fair.
    12. Having a sense of humor.

These similar but different definitions show that Googleyness is still a vague term. Google’s public information pages on hiring do not mention Googleyness, and only allude to a “unique hiring process.”

The shifting definition of Googleyness comes as the search giant continues to address the gaps in diversity in its workforce. Google’s 2019 diversity report showed that only 33% of its employees are women. It further showed that black employees are still the most likely to leave the company, followed by Latinx employees – although it also shows that they left at lower rates than in the year before.

A 21-year-old woman was charged with manslaughter after her boyfriend’s suicide. Experts fear it’s a ‘slippery slope’ that could even endanger crisis line workers trying to help.

Alexander Urtula and Inyoung You.

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Alexander Urtula and Inyoung You.
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Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

  • A Massachusetts grand jury indicted 21-year-old Inyoung You this week on involuntary manslaughter in connection with her boyfriend’s suicide.
  • The case bore striking similarities to the landmark 2017 conviction of Michelle Carter, who was deemed criminally culpable in the 2014 suicide of Conrad Roy.
  • But a suicide expert told Insider that criminally charging people over the suicides of their partners could lead to a “slippery slope” that might even leave crisis line workers liable.
  • “[That] opens the door to saying that somebody who might be on a crisis line either did or did not say something that resulted in your death,” he said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A former Boston College student made headlines across the country this week after she was indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with her boyfriend’s suicide.

On Monday, Suffolk County prosecutors accused 21-year-old Inyoung You of physically, verbally, and psychologically abusing her boyfriend, 22-year-old Alexander Urtula, over their roughly 18-month relationship.

They allege she manipulated Urtula, controlled him by threatening to harm herself, and sent him more than 47,000 text messages in a two-month period, repeatedly urging him to “go die.”

Prosecutors have blamed Urtula’s death on You, and have tried to get her return to the US from her native South Korea to face the charges in court.

The case immediately drew comparisons to that of Michelle Carter, a 22-year-old woman who was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 suicide of Conrad Roy. Carter, too, repeatedly pressured Roy through text messages to kill himself.

But criminal justice and suicide experts warn that the cases present a troubling trend, and question whether involuntary manslaughter is an appropriate charge for another person’s suicide.

The You and Carter cases set a dangerous precedent

Jonathan Singer, president of the American Association of Suicidology and associate professor of social work at Loyola University Chicago, told Insider that criminally charging someone for a suicide could potentially open a floodgate of criminal charges or lawsuits that would leave a host of other people potentially liable.

“This is incredibly complicated,” Singer said. “If you’re holding somebody responsible for what they said, then it’s a slippery slope in terms of the law, in terms of holding people responsible for what they don’t say.”

For instance, thousands of workers across the country work for suicide crisis hotlines, where people in distress can call or text and seek help.

Singer said You’s and Carter’s cases sat a dangerous precedent based on a flawed premise: that a text can cause someone to kill themselves.

“[That] opens the door to saying that somebody who might be on a crisis line either did or did not say something that resulted in your death,” Singer said.

Though it may seem unlikely that prosecutors would go after a crisis line worker who was only trying to help, Singer pointed out that the loved ones of people who died by suicide often try to seek justice through the legal system.

“What we know is when people lose loved ones to suicide, they’re sad, they’re angry, confused, and sometimes they sue,” Singer said. “And so any crisis line that uses texting or chat, those records are then part of discovery.”

Most suicides are complex, and aren’t caused by a single event or person

Alexander Urtula.

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Alexander Urtula.
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Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

Singer added that You’s texts and behavior may have been abusive and harmful, but other factors may have affected Urtula’s decision that authorities have not presented.

Simplifying Urtula’s suicide to one single cause may be not only inaccurate, but could be harmful in future cases as well.

“From a legal side, I think that’s dangerous,” Singer said. “From a mental health side, I absolutely believe that the intimate relationships we have with people, we have to take responsibility for what we do in them.”

But he said even the premise that someone can be blamed for another person’s suicide lacks evidence, as well as an understanding of why people choose to take their own lives – which is almost always a complex and multi-factored decision.

Research also shows that as many as 90% of people who have died by suicide also had mental disorders, and many suffered from depression, substance use, or psychiatric illnesses.

“We don’t have any research where we’ve been able to say conclusively that pressure to do something like kill yourself results in a greater likelihood of somebody doing it,” Singer said. “And the reason for that is it would be completely unethical to do this research. So there is no empirical answer to that.”

Leaked memo from Barneys CEO says there’s only a ‘small chance’ the company gets saved

Barneys CEO Daniella Vitale.

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Barneys CEO Daniella Vitale.
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Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

  • In a leaked memo, Barneys CEO Daniella Vitale confirmed to employees that the bankruptcy court has approved Barneys’ sale to Authentic Brands Groups, a move that would effectively shutter all Barneys stores.
  • Vitale said that while there’s a limited window of time for a bidder to rise up and reach an “alternative solution” that would prevent liquidation, the chance of that happening is “small.”
  • “We have all worked very hard to avoid this outcome,” Vitale said in the memo. “I understand this has been a long and uncertain process, and I want to thank you all for your focus and dedication to keeping Barneys moving forward.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As Barneys awaits finalization of its sale to Authentic Brands Group, Barneys CEO Daniella Vitale said in a leaked internal memo that the iconic department store is likely in its final days.

In the letter from Vitale to employees obtained by Business Insider, Vitale confirmed the court had approved a deal with ABG in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue, which will be final as of 10 a.m. on Friday.

While that leaves a limited window of time for another bidder to step up and prevent the liquidation of the remaining stores, she said the likelihood of that happening is “small.”

“Importantly, there is still a small chance that we will receive another offer before tomorrow’s closing at 10 a.m. and we continue to work towards an alternative solution,” Vitale wrote. “We will share final communication on this tomorrow.”

Barneys entertained several interested buyers in the weeks after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August, including Kith cofounder and owner Sam Ben-Avraham. While ABG has a track record of revitalizing beleaguered brands like Aeropostale and Juicy Couture, the parameters of the deal as it stands would involve shuttering the existing Barneys stores and licensing the brand name to Saks Fifth Avenue.

Barneys has already closed 15 of its 22 physical store locations, leaving seven remaining, including its New York City flagship store. Shuttering the remaining stores could cost the job of more than 2,000 employees the Wall Street Journal reported.

“We have all worked very hard to avoid this outcome,” Vitale said in the memo. “I understand this has been a long and uncertain process, and I want to thank you all for your focus and dedication to keeping Barneys moving forward.”

A spokesperson for Barneys did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for additional comment on the memo but confirmed the deal’s approval earlier on Thursday.

“Earlier today, the court approved the sale of Barneys New York to Authentic Brands Group, in partnership with Saks,” a spokesperson previously told Business Insider. “Importantly, the sale has not concluded and other bidders can still come forward before tomorrow’s closing. Over the past several months, we have worked diligently with the court, our lenders and creditors to maximize the value of Barneys in this sale process, and we continue to work with all relevant parties towards the best solution for Barneys’ employees, designers and vendors, and customers.”

Here’s the full memo:

Dear Barneys New York Team Members:

As I have committed to keeping you updated on the sale process, I wanted to let you know that the court has approved the sale of Barneys New York to Authentic Brands Group, in partnership with Saks.

Importantly, there is still a small chance that we will receive another offer before tomorrow’s closing at 10 a.m. and we continue to work towards an alternative solution. We will share final communication on this tomorrow.

We have all worked very hard to avoid this outcome. I understand this has been a long and uncertain process, and I want to thank you all for your focus and dedication to keeping Barneys moving forward.

Sincerely, Daniella Vitale

Everything we know about Taylor Swift’s mysterious boyfriend and muse, Joe Alwyn

  • Taylor Swift has been dating Joe Alwyn since at least 2016.
  • Like Swift, he maintains a relatively private and mysterious public persona, giving few interviews.
  • He’s an actor who got his big break with 2016’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” and has a growing career as a model.
  • He also starred in “The Favourite,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” and “Boy Erased.”
  • Alwyn currently stars alongside Cynthia Erivo in “Harriet,” a film about abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Taylor Swift’s current boyfriend and likely muse is Joe Alwyn, an actor and model.

The two have been dating since at least fall of 2016, shortly after Swift broke up with her previous boyfriend, Tom Hiddleston, but the precise timing is still uncertain.

Like Swift, Alwyn is in tight control of his media persona. He’s given a few interviews in the past year (mainly discussing his roles in “The Favourite,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” and “Boy Erased”) but is careful to conceal details about his relationship. The British actor also stars alongside Cynthia Erivo in “Harriet,” a new film about abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Here are eight key things to know about Alwyn.


He got his big acting break with “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”

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Joe Alwyn in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”
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Sony Pictures Entertainment

Alwyn acted in London’s theater scene for a few years before starring in Ang Lee’s 2016 follow-up to “Life of Pi.” As a war satire, it was set up to be an Oscar contender, but all of that changed when critics actually watched it.

Nonetheless, Alwyn’s performance was praised. He went on to have a role on “The Sense of an Ending,” released in 2017 to good reviews.


Alwyn lives a low-key life.

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Joe Alwyn in April 2017.
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Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Before the news broke that he was dating Taylor Swift, Alwyn had just 3,000 Twitter followers, which he used only to promote “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” He doesn’t use Instagram too often, despite now having more than 200,000 followers. Until 2018, he was living at home with his parents. Swift reportedly went on dates with him while wearing a wig to protect their privacy.


His parents taught him to love movies.

Alwyn’s father is a documentary filmmaker who made films in “crisis zones,” as Alwyn described. His mother is a psychotherapist. Both of them introduced him to the world of movies and theater.

“I’ve always grown up with [my father] showing me films and I’ve always loved going to the cinema,” Alwyn told People. “And my mum had taken me to the theater a lot, so I always wanted to be a part of that world in some way but didn’t quite know how or how to go about it.”

In high school, Alwyn dabbled in theater and then studied drama in college. Afterward, he went to the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama for three years to study acting.


Some songs on “Reputation” and Swift’s most recent album, “Lover,” reference him.

As long as Taylor Swift has been writing love songs, her fans have scrutinized them to figure out which real-life men they might be about.

Because Swift is dating Alwyn right now, her fans have peered into the lyrics of her songs from her last album, “Reputation” to figure out whether they’re about him.

For “Gorgeous” (from her “Reputation” album), there are some clues that the song may be about her love for his looks, but the details don’t totally line up with reality. And for “Call It What You Want,” it’s also possible that the song is about their relationship, but the precise meanings are still obscure.

Swift’s “Lover” album, which was released in August 2019, has clearer nods to the British actor. On the title track, the singer says that she’s “loved you for three summers now, honey, but I want ’em all.”

She also talks about marriage on the song “Paper Rings” and details the places they visited in England on “London Boy.”


Ed Sheeran approves.

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Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift are good friends.
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Anna Webber/Getty Images

In an October interview, Sheeran, one of Swift’s longtime friends and artistic collaborators, said Alwyn was a good guy.

“He’s really nice. Really, really friendly, really good dude,” Sheeran said. “They are very much in love, they have quite a low-key relationship, which Taylor likes. It’s normal, and no one really knows about it right now.”

Sheeran said their relationship is profoundly normal.

“They just work out, watch movies together and invite friends over,” Sheeran said. “Taylor loves to cook and bake for him. They are still taking it slow.”

The couple also attended Sheeran’s Jingle Ball performance in December 2018, one of their few public appearances together.


Prada made him the face of its spring and summer 2018 menswear collection.

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Joe Alwyn at the opening night premiere of “The Favourite” in 2018.
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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The actor modeled for the fashion brand’s menswear line.


He did a modeling photo shoot with Gigi Hadid.

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Gigi Hadid is a model.
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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Alwyn’s Prada campaign isn’t his first modeling gig. For the September 2016 issue of Vogue, Alwyn modeled with Swift’s friend Gigi Hadid. Some Swift fans theorize that the couple met through the Hadid connection.


He auditioned for the role of Sam in “Love Actually.”

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Thomas Brodie-Sangster in “Love Actually.”
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Universal

Alwyn told GQ UK that he recalled “reading some scenes” with star Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis, the film’s director and writer.

The role of Liam Neeson’s on-screen son ultimately went to Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who’s now known for his role as Newt in the “Maze Runner” movies.

18 celebrities who nailed it as other celebrities for Halloween

Nina Dobrev, Harry Styles, and Kylie Jenner have copied Billie Eilish, Elton John, and Christina Aguilera, respectively, for their Halloween costumes.

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Nina Dobrev, Harry Styles, and Kylie Jenner have copied Billie Eilish, Elton John, and Christina Aguilera, respectively, for their Halloween costumes.
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Michael Kovac/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images/Kylie Jenner/Instagram

  • Celebrities often make for great inspiration when coming up with an epic Halloween costume.
  • Even famous people have adapted their peers’ signature styles to celebrate the spooky holiday.
  • Nina Dobrev, Harry Styles, and Kylie Jenner, have all copied musicians like Billie Eilish, Elton John, and Christina Aguilera, respectively.
  • Insider rounded up 18 photos of celebrities dressed as other celebrities for Halloween.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jessica Biel went as her husband Justin Timberlake for Halloween 2019.

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Jessica Biel as Justin Timberlake with Timberlake as a microphone.
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Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Casamigos

The actress copied her husband’s ’90s aesthetic while he went as a giant microphone.


Evan Peters and Halsey made their red carpet debut as a couple while dressed as Sonny and Cher.

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Evan Peters and Halsey as Sonny and Cher.
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Rachel Luna/FilmMagic)

They wore matching polka dot looks, and the “American Horror Story” star added a mustache to complete his Sonny costume.


Kim Kardashian West and pal Jonathan Cheban also took inspiration from Cher and Sonny, respectively.

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Kardashian West as Cher and Jonathan Cheban as Sonny.
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Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

She emulated the singer by wearing a yellow crop top and matching pants to the Casamigos Halloween Party in 2017.


Ciara and Russell Wilson emulated Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s looks from the “Apes—” music video.

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Ciara and Russell Wilson as Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
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Instagram/Ciara

They also swapped out the Mona Lisa with a photo of Michelle and Barack Obama.


Nina Dobrev nailed her Billie Eilish costume.

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Nina Dobrev as Billie Eilish.
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Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Casamigos

The “Vampire Diaries” star wore an orange Louis Vuitton sweatshirt with matching pants. She also colored her dark roots bright green and painted black tears down her face to emulate Eilish’s look from the “When the Party’s Over” music video.


Eminem’s daughter Hailie Jade Mathers had a spot-on Ariana Grande costume for Halloween 2019.

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Hailie Jade Mathers as Ariana Grande.
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Hailie Jade Mathers/Instagram/Gotham/GC Images

The Instagram influencer’s look consisted of an oversized flannel, thigh-high boots, a choker, and a lollipop.


Kourtney Kardashian also used Grande as inspiration for her costume in 2018.

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Kourtney Kardashian as Ariana Grande.
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Kourtney Kardashian/Instagram

The “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star wore her hair up in Grande’s signature high ponytail.

She also wore a pink babydoll dress, much like the one the pop star wore during an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in May 2018.


Stormi Webster went as her mom, Kylie Jenner.

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Stormi Webster as Kylie Jenner.
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Instagram/Kylie Jenner

Jenner dressed the daughter she shares with Travis Scott in a mini version of the purple look she wore to the 2019 Met Gala – lilac wig and all.


Before Stormi went as Kylie, Kardashian West copied her own Met Gala look for her Halloween costume.

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Kardashian West as herself.
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Kim Kardashian/Instagram

In 2015, Kardashian West rewore her 2013 Met Gala dress.


Lisa Rinna took on Jennifer Lopez’s iconic Versace gown.

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Lisa Rinna as Jennifer Lopez.
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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Casamigos

JLo approved of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star’s take.

“It was really, really cute. She looked awesome,” the “Hustlers” star told “Access Hollywood” of Rinna’s outfit.


Kevin Hart copied Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for his Halloween costume this year.

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Kevin Hart as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
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Kevin Hart/Instagram

He wore a black turtleneck, a gold chain, jeans, and a fanny pack.


Harry Styles won Halloween 2018 with his sparkly take on Elton John.

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Harry Styles as Elton John.
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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

The former One Direction member wore a glittery Dodgers uniform and oversized, bedazzled sunglasses for his rendition of Rocketman.


Kylie Jenner looked just like Christina Aguilera in 2016.

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Kylie Jenner as Christina Aguilera.
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Kylie Jenner/Instagram

The cosmetics mogul copied the singer’s iconic look from the 2002 music video for “Dirrty.”


Karlie Kloss looked striking as Marilyn Monroe in 2017.

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Karlie Kloss as Marilyn Monroe.
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Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

The model wore a shawl and white dress similar to Monroe’s iconic look.


Nina Dobrev went as US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte in 2016.

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Nina Dobrev and a friend as US Olympic swimmers, Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen.
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Nina Dobrev/Instagram

The “Vampire Diaries” star appeared to be making fun of Lochte’s scandal in Rio de Janeiro that was going on at the time.


Paris Hilton took on Miley Cyrus in 2013.

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Paris Hilton as Miley Cyrus.
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Paris Hilton/Instagram

Hilton wore a mouse leotard and accessorized with a foam finger for her Cyrus-inspired costume.


Meanwhile, Paris was the inspiration behind sister Nicky Hilton’s 2018 costume.

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Nicky Hilton as her sister, Paris.
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Michael Kovac/Getty Images

She copied her sibling’s iconic dress that she wore to her 21st birthday party in 2002.


Rita Ora’s Post Malone costume in 2018 was uncanny.

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Rita Ora as Post Malone.
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Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

She pulled off the look by adding facial hair and Malone’s face tattoos.

Jeff Bezos got a jump scare, but he’ll be back

Happy Halloween, and welcome to this week’s edition of Trending.

If you’re new here, I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast bureau chief and global tech editor, and this newsletter is where I highlight the best of BI Prime’s tech coverage every week.

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This week: Amazon gets the biggest jump scare of its life

Who could blame Jeff Bezos if he jumped out of his seat in terror when the Pentagon announced the winner of the vaunted $10 billion JEDI cloud contract?

The deal was all but assured to go to Amazon, but, somehow, Microsoft came out of nowhere and ran away with the prize.

Jeff Bezos

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s been a lengthy and hard-knuckle process – one analyst called it the “nastiest bakeoff I’ve seen for a technology deal in 20 years covering tech” – with big egos, big stakes, and even speculation about a vendetta by President Donald Trump.

But two things are clear:

1. Oracle’s “zombie” strategy was critical to Microsoft’s victory.

As Ben Pimentel explains, Oracle was eliminated from the running early on but refused to give in, swarming the Pentagon with protests and legal challenges. That slowed down the government’s selection process, giving Microsoft the time it needed to improve its offering and catch up to Amazon. And thanks to a June cloud partnership that Oracle struck with Microsoft, Oracle stands to share some of the spoils – at least indirectly – of Microsoft’s victory.

2. This isn’t over.

Anyone who knows Bezos knows he doesn’t give up easily. This deal is worth way too much for Amazon to go quietly – not just for the lost business it represents but because it signifies that Microsoft is now at the same level as Amazon in the all-important cloud business. As Ashley Stewart and Ben Pimentel report, Amazon is weighing multiple options. That could mean anything from an administrative challenge to a lawsuit. Or maybe Bezos has a surprise of his own in the works.

Read the full story here:

Oracle failed to derail the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI contract, but it still ended up a winner in Microsoft’s upset victory over Amazon

The ‘other’ kind of tech company

Silicon Valley has earned a reputation for left-leaning politics. That has made Palantir, the Peter Thiel-founded big-data company, an outlier in the region. And if you travel south, into Southern California’s Irvine, you’ll find another Thiel-affiliated startup that breaks the mold.

Anduril is backed by Thiel’s Founders Fund, and it counts a Trump supporter, Palmer Luckey, the Oculus cofounder who supports Trump, among its founders. But as Melia Russell reports in a fascinating profile about the company, Anduril’s CEO is a “lifelong Democrat.”

anduril defense tech startup ceo brian schimpf

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Anduril

Anduril’s products, which include high-tech watchtowers that can detect migrants crossing the border from Mexico, will be relevant in any administration, CEO Brian Schimpf argues. And with China getting serious about artificial intelligence, US companies can’t afford to fall behind developing certain kinds of technology.

Whether you agree with that or not, Schimpf is worth paying attention to. The 35-year-old CEO embodies the conflicting impulses and motivations roiling the tech industry. In Silicon Valley, the twin tenets of changing the world and making a fortune are no longer in harmony. At Anduril, they are perfectly aligned.

“People know what they signed up for here,” Schimpf says.

Read the full story here:

A major Trump supporter has a $1 billion startup building drone destroyers and a virtual border wall. Here’s why a ‘lifelong Democrat’ took the job of running it.

A Quantum quarrel

In the age of Twitter, it’s not unusual to see corporations and their execs get into public squabbles.

But there was something remarkable about the feud that erupted last week between two tech giants last week. Google announced a breakthrough in the field of quantum computing, the kind of news that would typically be greeted with cheers throughout the research community. But in a striking breach of decorum, IBM publicly pooh-poohed Google’s accomplishment, insisting that Google had not truly achieved “quantum supremacy.”

As Rosalie Chan reports, this may seem like an academic dispute, but it really shows how seriously the tech industry now takes quantum computing. Once deemed the stuff of science fiction, quantum computing is now getting closer to reality. And given quantum’s potential to upend the major markets, the companies are prepared to fight for it.

Read the full story here:

IBM picked a fight with Google over its claims of ‘quantum supremacy.’ Here’s why experts say the feud could shake up the tech industry’s balance of powers.

superconducting qubit quantum computer erik lucero ucsb

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Erik Lucero/UCSB

Other recent tech highlights:

And more from across the BI newsroom:

As always, I’m eager for your feedback, thoughts, and tips – you can email me at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com. And if you like this newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues they sign up here to receive it.

Thanks for reading, see you next week,

Verizon’s other mobile service called ‘Visible’ has the best deal you can possibly find for mobile data plans — with a little catch, of course

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Visible

  • Visible is a mobile carrier owned by Verizon that runs off Verizon’s network, and it offers tempting plans for unlimited data.
  • Visible rolled out its new “Party Pay” plan that lets up to four people join a plan. The more people in the plan, the higher the tier, and the less everyone pays.
  • Everyone in the “party” is responsible for their own bill. If someone doesn’t pay on time, the party is bumped to a smaller tier that pays a little more. If the late payer pays the bill, the party can be bumped back up to the original tier that pays less.
  • The point is to relinquish responsibility from a single person who manages a plan.
  • There is one caveat, however. While the data is unlimited, speeds can be throttled whenever the network is congested. Most unlimited plans from big carriers don’t throttle speeds until you’ve reach a certain amount of data.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Visible mobile carrier, which is owned by Verizon and runs off Verizon’s network made quite the impression a while ago when it offered an unlimited data plan for $40 per month.

On Thursday, Visible rolled out its new “Party Pay” plan that lets you add up to four lines in a single plan with unlimited data. The more people in the plan (up to four people), the less each person pays.

  • Groups of two pay $35 per line.
  • Groups of three pay $30 per line.
  • And groups of four pay $25 per line.

The only caveat here is that your data speeds might be capped at any time when the network is congested. That’s different than other major carrier plans, where data speeds are typically capped after a user has used a certain amount of data in a given month. On Verizon, for example, unlimited data users aren’t speed-capped until they reach 22 GB of data in that month.

When the network isn’t congested, data speeds are typical and aren’t dependent on how much data you’ve used in a given month.

One of the best things about the new Party Pay plan is that each person is responsible for their share of the bill. This eliminates the need for a single person to manage the plan.

If someone in the “party” doesn’t pay their bill on time, the “party” is bumped to a smaller tier. So, if you’re in a party of four paying $25 per month, and one of the party members doesn’t pay on time, the party will be bumped down to 3-person tier in which each member pays $30 per month. The late party member can pay their bill, and the party can return to a 4-person party.

To note, Visible works with WiFi calling on iPhones and most Android phones. You can check if your phone, or the phone you want, is compatible with Visible’s network on the carrier’s site.

You can also use your phone as a hotspot for unlimited data, but the hotspot speeds are capped at 5 megabits per second.

It’s a great sounding plan on paper. Before officially endorsing it though, I’ll have to test out Visible’s caveat about capping data speeds during times of network congestion to see how it affects a typical day’s usage.

7 of the world’s most haunted castles and mansions — and a look at their dark histories

The Château de Trécesson is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman who was buried alive on the property.

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The Château de Trécesson is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman who was buried alive on the property.
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Photo by Gerard SIOEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Some of the most haunted places in the world give us a deeper look into the history of past cultures.

From Château de Trécesson in France (supposedly haunted by a young woman who was believed to be buried alive on the premises) to Morgan House in India (said to still be visited by the spectral, tortured wife who once lived there), these locations are not only home to alleged ghosts, but also to the legends that have been passed down for decades – or even centuries.

It’s no wonder why these locations hold such an allure for travelers. They offer not just goosebumps or a set of cold shivers down the spine, but the chance to feel a connection with souls who came before – the people who walked in a land before our time.

And if not that – well, then at least for a pretty solid Instagram picture.

Here are some of the most haunted, once-opulent former residences in the world.


Beijing, China — Chaonei No. 81, or “Chaonei Church,” is noted as being “Beijing’s most celebrated haunted house.” While no records exist that explain why the home was built, there have been numerous disappearances associated with the property.

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Daniel Case CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

At the entrance of Chaonei No. 81 is a notice stating that there are no ghosts on the property. But popular legends say otherwise.

One of the most common tales is about the mistress of a government official who died by suicide in the home, after the official left her during the Communist war. She is said to now haunt the property.

Another legend purports that the home was actually commissioned by a British priest who intended for it to be a church, but who went missing before the construction was ever completed.

Then, there are the three drunk construction workers who disappeared on the property, according to the Vintage News. The three workers were actually in the building next door, when they decided to break through the wall which separated their building from the Chaonei home. They were reportedly never seen again.

Source: Abandoned Spaces, The Vintage News, The New York Times


Brittany, France — The Château de Trécesson is said to be haunted by a woman who was buried alive on the property.

The Château de Trécesson is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman who was buried alive on the property.

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Photo by Gerard SIOEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The legend goes that a thief had been lurking around the Château de Trécesson and spotted two people digging a hole. Then, the two people dragged a young woman, dressed in a bridal gown, and threw her body into the hole.

The thief ran home and told his wife about what he’d seen, claiming that he’d overheard the two people saying they’d buried the young woman alive because she had “dishonored” her family. His wife told him to run back and save the young woman, but once he returned, the young bride was already dead.

Source: The Local


Kalimpong, India — Morgan House is said to be haunted by one Ms. Morgan, who died in the home and was reportedly tortured by her husband prior to her death.

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Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP via Getty Images

Morgan House was once occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, who lived on the property shortly after getting married.

The legend states that Mr. Morgan used to torture his wife, causing her to fall into a state of sorrow and unhappiness. Eventually, Mrs. Morgan died, and Mr. Morgan abandoned the property.

For decades, the home was in a state of disrepair, until the Indian government took control of it. Now, it’s run as a boutique hotel, though people still report hearing the tapping of Mrs. Morgan’s heels in the hallways.

Source: Times of India


Toronto, Ontario — Casa Loma has ghost stories dating back to the 1930s.

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Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

This castle was built by businessman Sir Henry Pellatt in 1914 for his wife, Lady Mary Pellatt.

Today, visitors and staff workers at the castle report seeing apparitions, being touched by unseen figures, and even hearing disembodied voices around the property.

The castle is said to be haunted by several ghosts, one of which is known as “The White Lady”; she is believed to have been a maid on the property in the early 1900s.

Then, there are the tunnels underneath the property, in which guests have reported speaking to and otherwise interacting with another ghost. Reports say that the formerly-alive person in the tunnel was a friend of Sir Henry, who was hired to look after his horses.

There have also been rumored sightings of Sir Henry and his wife Lady Mary themselves. People say they’ve spotted Henry glaring out of the windows on the second floor, and Mary, who has been noted for turning off the cameras of those who have tried to capture a snapshot of her in the afterlife.

Source: Curbed, Toronto.com


Batu Gajah, Malaysia — Kellie’s Castle is considered one of the most haunted places in Malaysia.

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Photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Construction of Kellie’s Castle began in 1915 but ceased in 1926 after its owner, William Kellie Smith, died. Soon after, the castle was sold off, and fell into a state of disrepair.

Ever since, his spirit is said to haunt the second floor of the castle, and a young girl, believed to be his daughter, has also supposedly been seen around the property. During WWII, Japanese soldiers were said to have executed prisoners on the castle grounds, leaving an eerie, unsettling vibe as one enters the property.

Source: SCMP


Bogota, Colombia — The Casa de la Poesia is said to be haunted by the poet who once lived there.

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Msorel / WikiCommons

Now a museum, Casa de la Poesia (literally “House of Poetry”) was once home to poet Jose Asuncion Silva.

Tragically, he died by suicide on the property in 1896, according to The Culture Trip. Ever since, people passing the property have reported hearing moans and whispering coming from within.

Source: The Culture Trip


County Offaly, Ireland — Charleville Castle is thought to be one of the most haunted places in all of Europe.

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By Dontsu / Shutterstock

Charleville Castle dates back to 1798 when it was built for Earl of Charleville William Bury and his family. It remained in the family until 1963 when Charles Bury “suddenly dropped dead.”

Today, people report hearing disembodied voices and classical music throughout the property. Visitors have claimed that sounds of children playing fill the air in the room that was once a nursery, and the apparition of a young girl named Harriet has been spotted in the stairwell.

Harriet died in the 1800s while she was playing on the stairwell; legend has it that a little girl can be heard giggling and talking, and has even moved furniture.

The castle was reportedly built on ancient land where religious leaders once convened. The current owners of the property say they’ve seen hooded figures walking around on the castle grounds.

Source: Irish Central

Adam Neumann demoted his chief of staff for being pregnant, a new complaint against the ousted CEO and WeWork alleges

  • Adam Neumann’s former chief of staff has filed a complaint saying the ousted CEO, WeWork, and the company’s current chief operating officer discriminated against her for being pregnant.
  • In a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York, Medina Bardhi said that she was demoted after each of her two pregnancies and that her male replacements made substantially more money.
  • While Bardhi was pregnant, she flew on a private plane on which Neumann and others smoked marijuana, according to the complaint.
  • WeWork said in a statement that it intended to vigorously defend itself against the claim.
  • For more stories about WeWork, click here.

Adam Neumann’s right-hand woman said in a complaint filed Thursday that while she was pregnant she had to fly in a private plane with the then-WeWork CEO and other executives who were smoking marijuana.

In a filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York, Medina Bardhi said she was discriminated against for years by WeWork, Neumann, and the company’s chief operating officer, Jennifer Berrent, including around two pregnancies.

The complaint said Bardhi’s treatment was part of a larger pattern of WeWork discriminating against female employees.

The company says it plans to fight the complaint.

“WeWork intends to vigorously defend itself against this claim,” a WeWork spokeswoman said in a statement. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We are committed to moving the company forward and building a company and culture that our employees can be proud of.”

A representative for Neumann, who was ousted as CEO in September, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bardhi said she was asked about her plans to become pregnant as far back as her October 2013 interview for the role of Neumann’s chief of staff. She said in the complaint that she was demoted after returning from both of her two maternity leaves, most recently earlier this year, and had to move offices and that her male replacements made significantly more money.

Bardhi started working with Neumann in 2005. She was laid off from WeWork in early October, part of cuts following Neumann’s ouster that saw most of his support staff leave. According to the complaint, Bardhi had started raising concerns about pregnancy- and maternity-leave-related discrimination weeks before her termination.

The complaint described a work environment in which female employees were demeaned for taking maternity leave and where more qualified women commonly earned less than their male colleagues.

Two other female employees have filed suit against WeWork in recent years, with both including claims of pay inequality. One suit said an employee was sexually assaulted at two company events, and the other, which was dropped in mid-September, alleged gender discrimination and retaliation.

According to Bardhi’s complaint, in late March a female executive who was four weeks into her maternity leave came in for a meeting with Neumann and now-co-CEO Artie Minson. There, she was told she was no longer continuing in her executive role. Fearing she would lose her job, she came back after six weeks of leave “without a clear role or job responsibilities” and then left the company, the complaint said.

Pregnancy as a ‘problem’ that needed ‘to be fixed’

Neumann repeatedly called Bardhi’s maternity leave “retirement” and “vacation” in front of other employees, the complaint said.

During Bardhi’s first pregnancy, when she was making $150,000 a year, Neumann replaced her with a male chief of staff who was offered $400,000 with a $175,000 signing bonus, according to the complaint.

When she returned from maternity leave, the chief of staff took her office while she shared a table with Neumann’s other staff, Bardhi said in the complaint. She, along with other employees, struggled to pump because the lactation room was “inexcusably unsanitary,” with no scheduling system for the five to 10 employees who needed to use it, the complaint said.

The complaint said that eventually the male chief of staff moved roles and Bardhi got her job back. But when she was pregnant for the second time, Neumann again looked for a permanent replacement for her role. They found another man who moved into her office as soon as he heard she was giving birth.

Eventually, a former business analyst at Goldman Sachs took the chief-of-staff job, and when Bardhi returned from maternity leave, she had no clear role or “meaningful work” for months, the complaint said.

She then was assigned to oversee the account for employees to message Neumann.

The complaint said that Bardhi raised concerns with multiple executives, including Chris Hill, WeWork’s chief product officer and Neumann’s brother-in-law.

The problem wasn’t just Neumann, per the complaint. Berrent, a longtime part of Neumann’s inner circle who is now the firm’s chief legal officer, “referred to Ms. Bardhi’s pregnancy as a ‘problem’ that needed ‘a solution’ and ‘to be fixed,’ and she repeatedly worked with Mr. Neumann to permanently replace Ms. Bardhi,” the complaint said.

Her complaint said that on a 2015 plane ride from Mexico City to New York, executives drunk on tequila joked about sexual acts that left Bardhi “feeling disgusted.”

The complaint said Neumann’s pattern of harassment continued through the lead-up to WeWork’s initial public offering, which was ultimately shelved. In a car ride from JPMorgan’s office, the complaint said, Neumann, in front of his personal assistant, “denigrated Ms. Bardhi for having taken maternity leave.”

According to the complaint, after Neumann stepped down as CEO, Bardhi was told on a call with Minson and two human-resources employees that she was being terminated because there was no role for her following Neumann’s departure.

Now, Bardhi is asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate her claims of discrimination and retaliation against WeWork’s female employees.

The New York-based attorney Douglas Wigdor is representing her.

The commission will investigate and decide whether discrimination occurred, at which time the parties could resolve the case through an informal process with the commission. If the case is still not resolved, the commission can file a lawsuit, and if the agency does not, it would give Bardhi the right to sue.

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