Before Miss USA Resignations, Ex-Employee Spoke Out About Alleged 'Toxicity' and 'Bullying' at the Organization

In a statement responding to the former employee's message, CEO Laylah Rose said, “I take these allegations seriously"

<p>Paul Archuleta/Getty; Chance Yeh/Getty</p> Former Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt and former Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava

Paul Archuleta/Getty; Chance Yeh/Getty

Former Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt and former Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava

Before Miss USA 2023 and Miss Teen USA 2023 announced their resignations this week, the organization's social media director also quit — and shared a statement elaborating on her departure.

On May 4, two days before former Miss USA Noelia Voigt announced she was relinquishing her crown, Claudia Michelle announced that she would be “stepping down” as Miss USA’s social media director in an Instagram post.

In the caption of the post, Michelle stated that working with Voigt, 24, as well as former Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava — who announced her resignation on Wednesday, May 8 — was “such a pleasure,” and called them “the definition of true titleholders.”

Then, in an official statement, she explained the reason for her departure, which she said was “not an easy decision,” noting that “being offered your dream job and seeing that it was anything but was so disheartening.”

Michelle alleged that she managed all social media for Miss USA by herself (stating that “for a brand of this caliber, a social media team is absolutely necessary") and claimed that she was not compensated for her first two months of work.

She also criticized the Miss USA organization as a whole, writing, “This is a women's empowerment organization and my hope in making this statement is to restore some of the empowerment back to these titleholders that was so deeply lost in their year.”

The former social media director said that during her time working closely with Voigt, she has “unfortunately seen a decline in her mental health,” which is what the former Miss USA 2023 cited during her resignation.

Michelle said that "her ability to share her story and her platform have been diminished,” and noted that she also witnessed “disrespect” towards Srivastava, 17, and her family.

“I feel the way current management speaks about their titleholders is unprofessional and inappropriate,” she wrote, adding, “I disavow workplace toxicity and bullying of any kind.”

Later in the statement, she added: “The brand IS the titleholders. Without them, there is no Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. I believe their voices and their stories should be heard and not silenced.”

<p>Chance Yeh/Getty</p> Former Miss USA 2023, Noelia Voigt

Chance Yeh/Getty

Former Miss USA 2023, Noelia Voigt

Miss USA CEO and President Laylah Rose responded to Michelle’s allegations in a statement provided to PEOPLE: “Our all-encompassing goal at Miss USA is to celebrate and empower women. Our participants make a real difference in this country and around the globe.”

“All along, my personal goal as the head of this organization has been to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to preserve integrity along the way,” the statement continues. “I hold myself to these same high standards and I take these allegations seriously. Please be assured that the well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority.”

The Miss USA organization previously issued a statement thanking Voigt for her service, saying that it respects and supports "Noelia’s decision to step down from her duties."

"The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time," the organization said in the statement obtained by PEOPLE at the time. "We are currently reviewing plans for the transition of responsibilities to a successor, and we will soon announce the crowning of the new Miss USA."

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Alongside her Instagram post announcing her decision to step down as Miss USA on May 6, Voigt said, “Never compromise your physical and mental well-being. Our health is our wealth.”

She also shared gratitude for “the love and support of the fans, old and new, my family, my friends, my coaches, former state and local directors, and my darling beloved Miss Teen USA, UmaSofia.”

Later in the statement, she added that she hopes to "continue to inspire others to remain steadfast, prioritize your mental health, advocate for yourself and others by using your voice, and never be afraid of what the future holds, even if it feels uncertain."

<p>Chance Yeh/Getty</p> Former Miss Teen USA 2023, UmaSofia Srivastava

Chance Yeh/Getty

Former Miss Teen USA 2023, UmaSofia Srivastava

Announcing her own departure on Instagram just two days later, Srivastava stated that her “personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

“After months of grappling with this decision, I have made the choice to resign from the title of Miss Teen USA 2023,” she wrote. “I am grateful for all the support from my family, my state directors, my sister queens, and the fans who have cheered me on since I won my state title."

"I will always look back on my time as Miss NJ Teen USA fondly," she continued, adding that "the experience of representing my state as a first generation, Mexican-Indian American at the national level was fulfilling in itself.”

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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