Raymond Townsend used to be the manager of US Limousine, and despite the fact that his wife also worked there, he developed a major-league sexual attraction for his employee, 32-year-old Geralyn Ganci. He sent Ganci plenty of texts, including one stomach-turning message informing her that he "had to pull over to the side of the road and masturbate thinking about me," Ganci says.
No woman should have to endure this kind of harassment to earn a living.
Finally, in February 2009, Townsend forced her into a bathroom and shoved his hand up her shirt. When she resisted, he fired her from her job — by text message.
"The plaintiff even received another text message from Raymond Townsend which has been preserved stating that the reason plaintiff was fired was because he 'refused to have sex with the general manager,'" according to court documents.
Ganci was so traumatized by the experience she was eventually hospitalized for extreme emotional distress, her lawsuit says.
Ultimately Townsend and US Limousine were slapped with a judgment of $550,000 in damages and another $170,000 in court fees.
While this case is particularly shocking based on the sheer stupidity of Townsend, Ganci is hardly alone. A poll conducted by Cosmopolitan last month reveals that 1 in 3 women has been sexually harassed at work, and yet only 71 percent of those women report it.
Why? Just ask Ellen Pao, who just lost a groundbreaking lawsuit against Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Why? Because sexism in the workplace is practically impossible to prove. Unless your boss puts it in writing and sends it to you.
Not every sexual harasser is dopey enough to put evidence of their crime in a text message. Which is exactly why we applaud Ganci, Pao and all the women brave enough to stand up to workplace harassment of any kind.
Let's not leave brave ladies like these out in the open all alone. Support women you know at work, and encourage them to push back against sexual harassment. One case at a time, we have to work to make the workplace a safer place for our daughters. They're counting on us.
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