Tales from the gas station

I work at a little gas station down the street from my house, and all of these incidents took place while I was working.

1) A customer that we regularly had trouble with trying to get free beer and cigarettes from one of the other employees came in and not seeing my coworker there started harassing me to give him free stuff. I had been told by my manager that this was not acceptable, and to tell him to leave if it happened again. I did as I was told and the customer started smiling to me. He told me I was cute when I was angry and asked if I was married. I told him that I was, and he told me that he was going to break into my house and steal me away from my husband. I told him again to get out, and he asked to take my hand. I refused, staying back from the counter. He set something on the counter, covering it with his hand, and assured me it was money for his purchase. Since my coworker had not come out of the back room (where the camera equipment was, he was watching the entire exchange from the office) and I had been assured several times that this particular customer, a regular in the store, was “harmless” I moved towards the counter to take the money and ring up the purchase. At that point he grabbed me by the hand and started pulling me over the counter. Finally, my coworker came out of the office and told the customer to leave. I was horribly shaken up by the experience, and told my manager and the owner that I was not comfortable with this kind of behavior, and asked specifically that this particular customer be barred from the property (a common practice when customers get out of hand). I was told that he was to be prevented from entering the store, but when he came back in a few weeks later and I told him to leave repeatedly, my coworker (the same one who’d been hiding in the back room during the actual event) waved him over and continued ringing him up several times in the same day, each time after I had asked the customer to leave. When I discussed this with the owner of the store, I was told that the individual was a “good customer” who came in often, so he was to be allowed into the store again. I expressed concern over having to serve him and the possibility of a similar incident, but the only answer I got was that my coworker wasn’t allowed to give him free beer and cigarettes anymore, but I am still expected to serve him when he comes into the store. This individual comes to the store several times a day, so I have to wait on him at least two or three times a shift, and my discomfort with him is constantly shrugged off.

2) At the same store, another regular who comes in several times a day has a habit of thrusting his hand over the counter towards me as I’m leaning over and handing him his change in attempt to grope at my chest. It’s another issue that I’ve brought up to superiors, and been shrugged off as “that’s just how he is, ignore it”. Apparently this is something he does to all of the female cashiers where I work, and is apparently just accepted as part of the job. Ick.

3) Another regular customer that comes in, and again, I have to wait on him several times each shift, regularly asks me if I’m married. When I tell him that I am, he appears to get angry at the information, insisting that I should leave my husband to be with him, asking for my phone number, etc, and once when I flat out told him I wasn’t interested he yelled at me, called me a stuck up bitch, and again insisted that I should leave my husband for him. Honestly, of the three, this is the one that most often appears to be truly a matter of a man deciding that women are all just property to be claimed with no rights or voice of their own, and the one that makes me the most uncomfortable (the other two, when stared at for the duration of their time in the store back down fairly quickly). Again though, when bringing it up to my superiors, it’s shrugged off as just something that “comes with the territory”, and something that I’ll just have to get used to. I’d rather not. I’m looking for another job already.

Submitted by Equalist

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4 Responses

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  1. friday jones says:

    Your employers might be violating State law. If your State is one of the many in the USA that has adopted a workplace sexual harassment law, and you are being sexually harassed and your complaints are ignored or dismissed and you are being forced to work in “a hostile working environment,” then you have the means to punish the HELL out of that rat bastard boss of yours.

  2. jovan says:

    I’m miffed that this street harassment incident happened so close to me! I live in Williston, S.C. — within 75 miles of where that incident happened!

  3. Equalist says:

    Friday, I’ll definitely look into the state laws around here and see what my options are. The job really isn’t worth all the stress, but it’s a small town, and there’s not much else available and I’ve got kids to take care of. My fiance (no, I’m not married, I just tell annoying customers that I am to get them to leave me alone) can’t stand that I’m working there, and I’m just sticking it out until I can get something better or at least safer.

  4. Tekla says:

    Actually, it’s against Federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The relevant case is:

    Lockard v. Pizza Hut Inc., 162 F. 3d 1062 (10th Cir., No. 97-7027, 12/14/98) – An employer may be held vicariously liable under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for hostile environment sexual harassment created in the workplace by nonemployees, if it knows or should know of harassing conduct and fails to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.

    You may want to talk to a lawyer, and consider if there is any hard evidence, e.g. emails to your boss in which you describe the situation and/or he says to deal with it.

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