2 Players Sue Philharmonic, Saying They Were Wrongfully Suspended

Two New York Philharmonic players sued the orchestra on Wednesday, saying they had been wrongfully suspended after a recent magazine article revived allegations of misconduct against them.

The players, Matthew Muckey and Liang Wang, filed separate lawsuits in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The men claimed that the Philharmonic had removed them without cause and in violation of an arbitrator’s ruling, which had ordered the orchestra to reinstate them in 2020 after an earlier attempt to fire them.

The players also sued their union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, accusing the organization of failing to provide them fair representation.

The Philharmonic, which recently said it would commission an outside investigation into the orchestra’s culture in response to the uproar over the article, said that it could not comment on active litigation. Local 802 declined to comment.

The lawsuits came after a report last month in New York magazine detailed accusations of misconduct made in 2010 against Mr. Muckey, the associate principal trumpet, and Mr. Wang, the principal oboist. After the story’s publication the Philharmonic moved quickly to remove Mr. Muckey and Mr. Wang from rehearsals and performances and suspend the players with pay for an indefinite period.

In the article Cara Kizer, a former Philharmonic horn player, came forward for the first time to publicly discuss an encounter that she said occurred while she was on tour with the Philharmonic in Vail, Colo., in 2010. She told the Vail Police Department at the time that she had been sexually assaulted after spending the evening with the two players and was given a drink she came to believe was drugged, according to police records. No charges were filed against the men, and both have denied wrongdoing.

In 2018 the Philharmonic, under new leadership, commissioned an investigation and moved to dismiss Mr. Muckey and Mr. Wang. But the players’ union challenged their dismissals, and an independent arbitrator forced the orchestra to reinstate them in 2020.

Mr. Muckey’s lawsuit accused the Philharmonic of backtracking on that agreement. The suit said that the orchestra had “violated an indisputably final and binding award which has determined that Mr. Muckey could not be removed based upon such allegations and specifically ordered his reinstatement with back pay and seniority.”

Mr. Wang accused the Philharmonic of suspending him “without cause or explanation, and in clear violation of the terms of his employment, which expressly require that he be given opportunities to perform and excel as a musician.” His suit claims that a lawyer for the Philharmonic said in 2019 that the ensemble had not accused Mr. Wang of misconduct related to the incident in Colorado.

Both men claimed that Local 802, which fought for their reinstatement in 2018, had failed to respond to their requests for assistance in contesting their new suspensions.

The union has struck a different tone on the case since the publication of the article. Sara Cutler, Local 802’s new president and executive director, said last month that the decision to keep Mr. Wang and Mr. Muckey offstage “are good first steps, but they can’t be the last.” She also said that she was “horrified” by the accusations, “as a woman, a musician and a new union president.”

Mr. Wang’s suit accused Ms. Cutler of making “duplicitous and injurious statements.” Mr. Muckey’s suit said that Local 802 had “failed and refused to perform its duty of fair representation.”

Mr. Muckey and Mr. Wang, who are seeking an unspecified amount in damages, said that the Philharmonic’s decision to suspend them had harmed their careers.

Mr. Muckey lost engagements with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and other ensembles. Mr. Wang was placed on leave from the Manhattan School of Music, where he teaches, and he lost work with the Taipei Music Academy and Festival and other groups.

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