New York, NY- An employee at a Manhattan Urban Outfitters filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the retailer, alleging they refused to take appropriate action against a customer caught taking photos up the skirts of female employees, the New York Daily News reported.
Tatiana Swiderski, 25, began working for the Urban Outfitters in Fifth Ave. last September, the Post reported, and almost immediately began facing inappropriate behavior. She shrugged some of those behaviors off as many men and women who are subjected to sexual harassment do, but she couldn’t ignore one incident.
According to the Daily News, security for the store booted out a customer after he was caught taking photos up the skirts of Swiderski and another female employee. She told the paper, “He was following us repeatedly up and down the stairs and just sticking the camera up our skirts.”
When Swiderski insisted police be called to report the customer, security let the man go. When she asked for his name so police could be called, security refused to give her the information. Instead, the guard made fun of her and asked, “What are you wearing under your skirt?”
In her lawsuit, the woman alleges that after she complained to management about the incidents and inappropriate comment, the security guard subjected her to repeated pat downs, according to the Gothamist.
Swiderski’s lawsuit also claims another customer told her he wanted to see her teeth and grabbed her lip. That customer then licked her face and grabbed the front of her dress and tried to pull her chest out. Again, Urban Outfitters management refused to call police and transferred Swiderski to the stock room.
She also alleges one of the stores’ managers made lewd comments towards her.
In a statement to the Gothamist, Urban Outfitters said the company “abhors unlawful discrimination and harassment” and has a policy forbidding such behavior. The company said they are investigating the Swiderski’s allegations.
Swiderski is seeking unspecified damages.
Just as employers have a responsibility to protect their employees against sexual harassment from customers as they do from employees. Failing to do so means an employer can face costly lawsuits.
In May a grocery store chain in Oregon was forced to settle a sexual harassment suit filed by four employees who alleged the store’s management allowed a customer to harass employees for years. The customer, man in his 80s went into the store daily, sometimes, several times, to ogle the women, who he sometimes groped and rubbed up against.
The harassment went on a few years, and during that time none of the store’s managers corrected the customer’s behavior. They must have viewed him as a harmless man, but the female employees were troubled by the man’s behavior.
The settlement arising from the Oregon case, shows the risks employers take when they don’t address sexual harassment. With assistance of an accomplished sexual harassment attorney, employees can hold their employer accountable for not protecting then against inappropriate behavior in the workplace.