Emily Houser, an 18-year-old from Pennsylvania, worked at her local Chili's restaurant in Whitehall from the time she was 16 until last Thursday.
Two weeks prior to her last day on the job, she submitted her resignation notice and reported the restaurant's manager, Josh Davidson, for having harassed her for the two years they worked together.
She was prompted to act after she noticed that the man had started approaching another young woman, she told BuzzFeed. Apparently to her coworkers, her reasoning wasn't good enough.
Instead of standing by Houser, they decided to shame her.
apparently a young woman reported her abuser to her supervisor. the supervisor took that information, spread it, & threw a party to mock her pic.twitter.com/hP59vXpDlj— a cat? (@lilpochaco) April 4, 2017
It all started when Davidson was hired just a few days after Houser got her job. The then 24-year-old quickly took interest in Houser. For two years, he relentlessly pursued a relationship with her.
The harassment was so intense that he even “began forcing me to go on dates with him," Houser told reporters. “He would just show up to my house uninvited and say he was outside and I had to come with him.”
Over the years, the incidents escalated, and Davidson started giving Houser “gifts of significance and money and flowers and cards and things that I wasn’t really accepting of, things that made me extremely uncomfortable because I was not sure what he expected of me from these gifts.”
When Houser turned 18 on April 26, 2016, things just got even more dramatic:
"On my 18th birthday, he showed up to my high school in the parking lot and just kind of rampaged me with gifts and asked me to officially be his girlfriend in front of a bunch of people. … I said no, and he replied in a very pompous way, saying he didn’t care if he got fired if we were together, and he didn’t care if he lost his job because he just wanted to be with me."
For months, Davidson continued pursuing Houser, showing up at her house at 2:30 a.m. and giving her a “card with hundreds of dollars in it,” she said.
Telling Davidson to “back off,” Houser returned the card and let the man know, once again, she “was so obviously not interested in him and did not want to be with him.”
After this incident, Davidson started acting aggressive at work, “being verbally and even physically weird and abusive” toward her. Brushing it off and deciding to not take action right away, she later noticed Davidson had started pursuing another young woman. Afraid of having someone else go through the same harassment, she said she decided to act.
Houser put in her two weeks' notice and reported the case to Chili's corporate headquarters. Instead of firing Davidson, they simply relocated him to the Chili's in Montgomery, Pennsylvania, after an investigation.
On his last day at the Whitehall location, coworkers threw him a “F*** Emily Houser” party, with the location's general manager in attendance.
“On his last day, at this party, the general manager of our store as well as him were both there laughing and cutting cake with everyone,” she told reporters.
On Instagram, coworkers posted photos of the cake with the caption “have your cake and eat it too hoe #petty.” Several of them also commented using the hashtag “#teamjosh.” Seeing what was going on made her feel odd, she said, simply because she thought some of her coworkers were her friends.
“I didn’t know how to feel, except I just didn’t really feel anything,” she stated. “And then I just started to cry, because I came to terms with the fact that I did call these people my friends and I did love them and care about them, and I have no idea why they were doing this to me.”
Noting that she had hoped this case had remained private, she later contacted the Chili's area director working on her case to know what had happened. According to Houser, the director told her to not assume who told everyone about the incident. “That’s all he had to say to me,” she added. With that, she said she believes Davidson is the one who shared the entire story with the staff.
According to Chili's, staff members involved in the incident are “no longer with the company.” Davidson was also later fired, BuzzFeed reported.
Hoping her former coworkers will see what Davidson did to her and understand her, she said she's now “happy” he was removed from his position, not because “he's out of a job, but that he's not able to do this to anyone else."
The online shaming, Houser said, is what needs to stop.
“[T]his is the kind of thing that people commit suicide over," she added.
As you can see, bullying isn't an issue only among teenagers in high school — and not all cases of harassment are the same. This teen may have failed in the beginning simply because she took so long to report her manager. Regardless, she did the right thing in the end.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Beryl_snw