An employee is suing her boss after he forced her to pick up dog feces from the sidewalk, which she claims was punishment for rejecting a co-worker's sexual advances.
New York City woman Shanae Johnson claimed that her boss, Earl Dennis, forced her into humiliation by making her pick up the animal waste outside of her place of employment, Easy Thrift Store, while he recorded the punishment on his phone.
"I don't know why he'd want to do a prank like that, while recording it on his phone. What kind of human being does something like that," Johnson stated. "It was so humiliating. If I could erase it from my memory, I would do that."
Johnson said she was overcome with nausea and left in tears when Dennis picked up the feces and held it close to her face, telling her it was fake and the whole stunt was a prank.
Johnson didn't see it that way, however, and said that the ordeal was in retaliation of her denying a co-worker when he made a move on her a few days prior.
She claimed that the co-worker, who she simply identified as "Joe," came "unreasonably close" to her and commented on how good she smelled. Johnson claimed he asked her age to see if he was "too old" for her. She said that when she told him that she was married and asked him to please stop what he was doing, Joe became angry and ordered her to clean the toilets the next day, a duty that had not previously been a part of her clerk job.
Dennis denied that any wrongdoing took place and also stated that Johnson is only a volunteer at his store, not an employee.
"It didn't happen," he stated. "We're good people. We don't do anything bad."
Whether intended as a prank or not, an employer needs to use better judgment when it comes to something like this and consider what is appropriate and what is not. In today's climate, where women are finally feeling safe coming forward after facing harassment in the work place, a "prank" such as this is particularly tone-deaf.
And, what's worse is that if Johnson's beliefs are correct and the prank was in retaliation to her dismissing her male co-worker, there is an even bigger issue at hand. Forcing an employee to do something that is not within their job description as punishment for turning down sexual advances is the wrong way to handle the situation and is, in itself, a form of harassment.
Johnson said the experience was traumatic and something she is still not over. She has since quit her job at the thrift store and filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights against the store and against Dennis.
Clearly, she was fed up with his crap.
Banner / thumbnail : Reuters, Erik De Castro