Nadia’s Story: Working with the system to put an end to harassment

I occasionally work through an online service that facilitates pre-screened runners to do tasks for people who either need help for a certain amount of time or doing a specific task. It’s a great service that allows me the ability to work when I have free time, but not maintain a strict regular schedule when a real job would interfere with school. It’s like a more legit way of hiring someone through craigslist to do menial work such as picking up groceries, house cleaning, assembling furniture, moving, event staff etc. During a recent bar tending event, a fellow hired through the same company hit on me the entire night and physically touched me twice. I was going to just let it go but decided that I should stand up for myself, that his harassment was not okay, and that I should not have to wait until I am groped, explicitly verbally harassed or raped before reporting sexual harassment. Everyone deserves a working environment where they can feel secure and not have to simply brush off a situation where another person makes them uncomfortable. I wrote the company this letter and they are taking the matter very seriously. I just got off the phone with one of their representatives who was very supportive and told me that the highest level of the company is currently having a meeting about the situation, that they value and support me and that they are going to take care of this situation. This is the letter I wrote to them:

“This is regarding the bar-tending task that took place this past Saturday 3/12 posted by {redacted} and the runner Ryan S.
I’m sorry if the prose is a bit lengthy and emotional, I’m still upset by the occurrence and had a hard time trying to describe exactly what happened.

It started with the usual introductions and small talk. He asked me if I was single which I thought a bit odd. He then proceeded to lengthily explain that his live-in girlfriend of 5 years up and left him for her boss and how he had moved into the city and was living alone while I nodded politely. At one point I stated that I was tired but my best friend was in from Seattle and I had promised to take her out once I got off but I really wasn’t up for it and needed coffee. He casually suggested half a dozen times that we find an open cafe and grab some together afterward. I pointedly ignored him to spare him the embarrassment and figured he would take the hint. He continued to jockey for an invitation, at one point suggesting that we take the leftover oversize bottle of tequila from the party and split it afterward. I continued to ignore him even though it was obvious that I had heard him. I realize that I should have verbally expressed my dissension but we had several hours to finish bar-tending and cleaning up and I wanted things to run smoothly for our host.

He crossed the line when he physically put his hands on me from behind, holding me with his hands on my shoulders. This was a purely flirtatious gesture on his part. He was not moving me out of the way and it in no way had any practical purpose towards the job at hand. I immediately ran away through the neighbor’s part of the roof that was partitioned off so I could get away as quickly as possible.

I’m not naive and I’ve worked at jobs where the relationship between coworkers allows that sort of contact over time. I had met Ryan that evening and was friendly but not flirtatious and I had given him absolutely no indication that he had permission to touch me in any way. I had just met him, I did not trust him and his behavior was completely inappropriate. He is also considerably older than me which added to my discomfort.

I felt uncomfortable at the prospect of leaving the building by myself in case he followed me as the task ended at midnight and was in a residential section of town. I called a good friend to come pick me up at the door.

At the end of the night he communicated to the host that we were done cleaning and she confirmed that we were good to go. This all happened 5 feet away from me and I heard their conversation. He then came behind the bar where me and the other runner were standing and put his hand on the small of my back and said that we could leave. I wanted him to exit first so that I could wait in the apartment for my ride to show up and to make sure that he didn’t follow me outside. This may seem paranoid but again, I had just met this man, he was older and larger than me, he had physically touched me twice after I had expressed my discomfort and honestly, in the pit of my stomach I felt very unsafe. He stood at the door which was ajar for several minutes seeming to internally debate whether he should openly ask me again to leave with him. I stared at my cellphone and waited for my ride to call, pretending I was engrossed in something.

He is a nice enough man and probably just lonely but he made me very uncomfortable in a situation where I felt powerless to openly reprimand him. I was ambivalent about writing this email at first, but the feeling of discomfort is still vexing me two days later.

I understand that (company name redacted) is unique and the nature of the system engenders an environment where interactions between your employees are hard to mitigate. I don’t want an apology from him and I don’t really care that nothing dangerous ended up coming of it. I would have no trouble classifying this as sexual harassment and want him fired. I absolutely feel afraid of seeing him again and disturbed at the thought of interacting with him, whether at a company party or during a two person job if he happens to get chosen as the other employee. This instance is interfering with my work as I will be weary bidding on two person events, which I usually really enjoy and pay the most.

I feel like I’ve been an valuable employee, picking up jobs whenever I have time, staying flexible to the senders needs, staying communicative with (company name redacted) if there were ever any discrepancies and being an excellent representative of your company. I have a 100% 5 star rating with 20 jobs and have met a few of the actual employees. There are no witnesses to the conversation or the physical contact described above other than possibly the party goers. The other bartender was downstairs at the time. My friend (redacted) who picked me up would be willing to verify my level of distress directly following the party and recount all of the instances I’ve described in this email. I had not met this man before, have no connection to him and will probably never see him again and assure you, I have no reason to fabricate these accusations.

I absolutely do not want to have any further interactions with this man so please make sure he does not contact me. If you have any questions please call me. I would be willing to come to the office and give you an in-person statement if you need one. Prior to contacting him please email me with the course of action you plan on taking. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before and am still very upset and shocked at the lack of professionalism he exhibited towards me. If nothing is done I will seriously consider closing down my account.

Thank you so much for your time reviewing this matter. I hope to hear from you soon.

-Nadia”

My intention of posting this is to bring hope to some women that sexual harassment accusations can be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. It was initially terrifying writing the letter and I was worried that I might simply be brushed off but the positive support I’ve received so far is truly inspiring and validating of my experiences and worth as a human being. Not all companies are as intelligent and empathetic to their employees but I thought I’d add my story to the pile and encourage women to report their harassers, even if a situation simply makes you uncomfortable. Regardless of gender, people need to learn respect of each-others boundaries or else sexual harassment will never end.

Author:

No Responses

Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress