May 24, 2024

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Miss USA’s resignation letter accuses the organization of a toxic work culture

Miss USA’s resignation letter accuses the organization of a toxic work culture

Miss USA, who gave up her crown and title this week, accused the pageant’s executive director of failing to take a sexual harassment incident seriously and creating a toxic work environment, according to a copy of her resignation letter obtained by NBC News on Thursday.

“There is a toxic work environment within the Miss USA organization that is at best poor management and, at worst, bullying and harassment,” Noelia Voigt wrote in the letter. “It started shortly after winning Miss USA 2023.”

Voigt announced Monday on Instagram that she was giving up her crown due to her mental health. Two days later, Miss Teen USA Uma Sofia Srivastava, 17, announced that she too would be stepping down in a statement that said her “personal values ​​no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

Fans shocked by the unprecedented resignations noticed that the first letter in every sentence of Voigt’s online statement read, “I am silent.”

In her resignation letter, Voigt said that Miss USA CEO and president Lily Rose consistently failed to communicate, and that when she did, she was “often unnecessarily cold and aggressive.”

“It’s very annoying trying to do my job and constantly being threatened with disciplinary action, including having my pay taken away, for things that were never discussed with me, and if it’s in relation to a public facing post for example, it’s not causing any harm.” “Another problem than not meeting her personal preferences,” Voigt wrote.

Representatives for the Miss USA organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

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“The well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority,” Rose said in a statement on Wednesday.

“All along, my personal goal as president of this organization has been to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to maintain integrity along the way. I hold myself to the same high standards and take these allegations very seriously,” she said.

In her letter, Voigt included details about an alleged incident of sexual harassment at a Christmas event in Florida. She wrote that she was left alone in the car with a man who “made several inappropriate statements to me about wanting to be in a relationship with me.”

Voigt said that when Rose learned of the situation, she told Voigt, “We can’t stop people from saying things to you in public appearances. That, unfortunately, is part of the role you play as a public figure.”

Rose was also accused in the letter of defaming Voigt to others in the organization and portraying her as “uninterested” in her job.

“I have heard comments range from calling me difficult to work with for various reasons that are not true, to exploiting my mental health struggles stemming from my experience as Miss USA 2023, and calling me ‘mentally ill’ in a derogatory way,” Voigt wrote in her letter. : “She hoped I would get hit in the face with a baseball at an event where I would throw the first pitch in a baseball game.”

Despite the environment, Voigt said, she was committed to the Miss USA brand, but her mental and physical health continued to erode.

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“I have now been diagnosed with anxiety and have to take two medications daily to manage my symptoms due to constantly being on edge, worrying about what Layla will do and choosing to harass me about daily,” the letter read.

She wrote that she had attacks from a pre-existing condition exacerbated by stress, and that she experienced “heart palpitations, whole body tremors, loss of appetite, unintended weight loss, loss of sleep, hair loss, and more.” “.

Voigt cited the toxic work environment at Miss USA which she said was unsafe for future Miss Universe titleholders.

“Every statement I have published regarding the ethics and integrity of the MUO directly contradicts what is happening within the USAO,” the letter read.

Claudia Michele, a former social media director who said she resigned last week, echoed similar sentiments about running Miss USA in an interview with NBC News on Thursday.

“Leaders in women’s empowerment organizations must be held accountable,” Michelle said. “How can you not take mental health as the face of your brand seriously?”

Michelle said she was aware Voigt had raised concerns about her safety and traveling alone, and that she began traveling more with Miss USA in March and April.

Michelle said Rose was inconsistent with her communications and that the organization’s management was unprofessional.