Workplace Harassment: Following graduation in May…
Following graduation in May 2018, I found myself with an opportunity in a faith-based real estate company that supports growth and achieving big dreams with a good salary and benefits. It was a dream come true, especially for someone, like me who is goal oriented, dreams big and loves the real estate investment world. Little did I know, that dream would come to a screaming halt, only 3 months into my career.
My boss confessed that he was in love with me and wanted a romantic love relationship. He presented me with a card and then showed me the pro and con list he made for dating me. He also described several scenarios on how our romantic love relationship could play out. Mind you, he is 36 years older than me. I assertively declined, stated I was already in a committed relationship and that for me, this was only a professional work relationship. He continued to provoke me with offerings of using his shower, dinner dates, friends with benefits which would include massages (yes, this is his exact words), comments about my appearance and would inappropriately rub against me.
While I was enduring the sexual harassment, I strategized and drafted an exit-plan on removing myself from an unhealthy and disrespectful work environment. First, I documented the harassment. I made family and friends aware of the situation. I even made it aware to a member in the company, during a coaching session. Next, I paid off all credit card debt, my car, and reduced my bills to the minimum. I then saved money to ensure I would be financially secure for a time being. And in the meantime, I read. I studied. I filled my mind with knowledge on how to create my own income. I focused on rebuilding my self-confidence and strength to persevere on.
Long story short, I was given a performance review and then let go due to reduction in expenses in January 2020. At the time of termination, I was presented with options of what I was supposed to say about dissolving my employment and severance pay, if I was willing to sign an NDA never speaking of the events that happened. I decided to refuse the severance pay and not sign the NDA. And in return, I hired an attorney and am currently pursuing a wrongful termination case with the EEOC.
All in all, having a plan in place is great and recommended, but it still didn’t prepare for me the emotional toll it would take. Even though I devised a plan and enlisted support from friends, family and mentors…I still to this day, have nightmares, anxiety ridden flashbacks and I find myself wondering “what ifs.” I do not know what is going to happen with my case. However, what I do know is…I still have my voice.