Olympian Shaun White was just hit with a pretty major sexual harassment lawsuit. Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer of White’s band Bad Things, filed a complaint in San Diego, California, this week against White.
In the suit, Zawaideh claims during the time she was in the band, from 2008 to 2014, she was subjected to White’s “darker, misogynistic personality.” She said that throughout the years she worked with White, he sent her sexually explicit and graphic images of penises, forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, including ones that “sexualized fecal matter,” and made sexual remarks to her.
Zawaideh also claims that White ran the band like a tyrant, requesting that she start wearing clothes that were sexually provocative instead of the conservative tops she prefered, and that she cut her hair to look more like the style he wanted.
He sounds like a real peach.
According to TMZ, Zawaideh does have text message screenshots that prove at least the claims that White asked her to wear see-through tops and cut her hair. White even confessed that they were text messages that he sent, but says, “Many years ago, I exchanged texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a bogus lawsuit. There is absolutely no coincidence to the timing of her claims, and we will defend them vigorously in court.”
If Zawaideh was fired in 2014, we can’t figure out the “coincidence” of filing a suit against White two years later, but maybe there is stuff going on behind the scenes we don’t know about.
No matter what White says, Zawaideh will continue with her suit. She said, “I am pursuing this case because women should not have to tolerate harassment at work. Shaun White should not be allowed to do whatever he wants just because he is famous. Although I am embarrassed to have been treated this way, I cannot sit by and watch him do this to other women.”
Of course, White is innocent until proven guilty, so we won’t make any judgments against him. But Zawaideh does have proof to back up her allegations, and we’re not in the business of shaming victims. If this did really happen, we’re proud of Zawaideh for speaking up and getting justice for the way she was treated. Each time someone speaks out, it gives everyone else the courage to do the same.
If White is innocent, he still needs a reality check on what is and isn’t appropriate to send to your coworkers. The rules still apply even if you are a semi-rock star.