Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Life Derailed by Sexual Harrassment

Published:Monday | May 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

Rick Grant* was overwhelmed with thoughts of his harassment, being escorted off the work premises like a common criminal and the death threats he had been receiving, he felt his chest tighten, pain in his calves. He remembered calling his girlfriend to tell her he loved her, emotionally spent, and uncertain if he would make it to the hospital. Months later, still feeling victimised by a situation he had no control over.

When we hear the term sexual harassment, we often think of a woman as the victim. We picture the inappropriate comments, gestures, and in some cases, touching that she received in the workplace. It seems far fetched for a man. Grant himself never thought it possible that he could be a victim.

"I never thought this could happen to me. Me not being soft, a strong man, would have to deal with sexual harassment," he told Flair.

 

Inappropriate Advances

 

He was harassed. What started off as questions about his tolerance of homosexuality, turned into so much more. He thought that his employer was just trying to see if he was right for the job. But when it turned into inappropriate advances that he did not encourage, he began to see the questions for what they were.

Grant was not forthcoming with the proposed dates and flirtations from this director at this particular hotel in Montego Bay, as a result, the discrimination began. The director started to pick on his attire, and ignoring requests for drinks he would need to give to guests, becoming a roadblock in his job. When it came time for the first contract renewal, there were several delays but Grant was renewed and transferred to another hotel. He thought it was over.

At the new location, the director still managed to maintain a presence in his job even though he was at a different branch. It got to the point where he was sending him inappropriate text messages. While his direct manager was a female who did not make any advances toward him, he had to work with a manager who was even less discrete than the director.

While making his rounds, the manager saw him and called to speak to him about a work project. He was invited to the manager's room to discuss the project.

"We were talking and then he turns on the television and placed it on pornography. I was very uncomfortable and I left," he told Flair. He also explained another advance, where the manager was very direct and asked Grant if he could perform oral sex on him.

"I was very firm and plain and said,'nuh try that again, don't come to me with that'," he admitted.

Grant ensured that he recorded the last incident with the manager. The manager had ordered room service and Grant did his best to pass it on to someone else and delay it but it could not be avoided. When he arrived at the room, the manager was in a robe. He made a similar advance and again it was denied firmly, but this time, he had proof. He took the recording to the human resources manager.

They did fire the manager, but when he made the complaint about the director, that was a completely different outcome. When it came time for his contract renewal he was ignored. The HR manager sent him to the director and vice versa. After being frustrated with the back and forth, he went to the general manager.

"I explained everything to him - the harassment and everything. He asked me what did I expect him to do about it. He told me to get out of his office and I was escorted off the premises like a criminal," he expressed with much frustration.

He consulted with lawyers and being that there is no sexual harassment law, it is proving a bit difficult for him to file a suit. This is despite the text messages and other evidence he has to prove his case.

Grant expressed that he had been blacklisted. Unable to pick up another job in the hotel industry since. Then there were the death threats that he had been receiving making him extremely paranoid. Moving to Montego Bay was an investment for him and he was made unemployed and afraid.

On the day he was fired, it affected him to the point that he thought he was having a heart attack and he called his girlfriend. It was later determined to be anxiety and he was prescribed mood stabilisers. His blood pressure was severely high and he has prescribed medication for that as well.

His health had completely derailed and after a year, the event is still fresh and he would just like it to end.

He believes that there needs to be more done. More highlights on the accused, so that people are aware of them and that victims can feel safer. With new lawyers on the case, he only hopes that in some way, he will get some justice instead of feeling like a victim over and over again.