Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Anita Hill Effect

Anita Hill may not have stopped Clarence Thomas from becoming a Supreme Court Justice but the effect of those trials on business in America has been lasting. Twice I have had to report men who were out of line with me and the second time was actually while the hearings were going on. If those hearings would not have happened then probably the situation would have turned out much differently.

I went to work at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club (dog track). From the first day I was there the head security guard at the compound was making suggestive comments and actually touching me inappropriately. It became so bad that I felt like a secretary from a 50's movie being chased around the desk by her boss (literally not figuratively). I began to dodge him and make excuses to my boss for not doing things that I was supposed to be doing because I didn't want to interact with this man. There were some aspects of my job which made it absolutely essential to see him so I couldn't keep away completely. I actually tried twice to speak with him about the situation and both times I left his office at a dead run!

After 2 weeks of this and listening to other women in the compound it became obvious that this was a problem which was not going to subside on its own. I went to track security. I told them that there was a crazy old man working in the guard shack who did not realize that there were boundaries in a working environment. I just wanted them to talk to him, that's all, not write him up or fire him or anything like that. They knew immediately about which guard that I was refering and they told me that unless I filed a written complaint that they couldn't do anything. So I did, making it clear at the same time that I just wanted them to talk to him and that was all. The next day they called me into the office and told me that there was nothing they could do without corroborating testimony.

I told them that was fine but that the other women in the compound were afraid to come forward because of repercussions. (Dog Tracks are notorious for blackballing people who complain). They assured me that if what I had told them was true that there would be no repercussions. I also told them that I wasn't going to pursue the problem any further because I was leaving the track for a better job anyway but I also told them this. "Someday somebody is going to hire a little 18 year old girl. This man is going to pull this stuff with her. She is going to go home and tell her mother and they will file a lawsuit against the track. When that happens I will be in court to testify that you knew about the situation and did nothing." I could tell that they paid attention to this statement.

That night I had a talk with one of the women who had worked at the track for years. I told her what I had done and that I was leaving for another job. I told her also that if she wanted anything done about "Woody" now was the time to do it and the head of security had assured me that there would be no repercussions for coming forward. I also went by the guard shack and told the old man what I had done. When I walked in he got up to come at me and I had to quite forcefully tell him in no uncertain terms to sit down that I had something to tell him. I told him I had tried to talk with him on 2 other occasions and he had made it impossible. I told him that I had filed a complaint and he of course told me that I was mistaken about everything and he didn't understand how I could do such a thing.

A week later my ex-boss from Daytona called me and told me what had happened. The day after I had left,at weigh - in time, ALL the women from the compound went together to the main security office. They told them that everything I had told them was true and they gave them many more examples of Woody's behavior, some which were worse than what I had told them. Woody was fired within the hour. It turns out that he wasn't just a crazy old man. He had been the police chief of Daytona at one time and was fired for writing tickets for traffic violations and tearing them up after the women would perform sexual favors.

My husband went to work there 5 years later. When the people in the compound found out that we were married they told him that they owed me a steak dinner whenever I was ready to collect.

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