Not a Black Chair.
Amélie Lamont

Thank you for sharing your story — it’s so hard to talk about these things without feeling guilt that you didn’t do enough or shame that it happened to you or anger because people don’t believe you.

I worked at a tech startup in Austin, and it was absolutely horrible. There was lots of weird, gross bro culture — from people talking about how they don’t want to be fat because no one fucks fat people, to people using all kinds of slurs casually. Finally, I went to HR after a guy’s list of the women he’d sleep with in the office (and, allegedly, a list ranking female coworker’s body parts) kept coming up. Turns out, my HR department consisted solely of the (white straight male) CEO. They appeared to take the claim seriously and the guy was passed over for a promotion. A few weeks later he took a job at a differently company, supposedly making double.

Even though I was thanks for coming forward and that it was obvious I cared about the company/team because of this bravery, I started getting in trouble for small things. I was pulled into a meeting because my tone of an email seemed aggressive. My manager asked me why I looked so disapproving during a meeting. It was all little things, until my CEO crashed my weekly 1:1 with my manager to tell me that my recent actions have been destructive to the culture: a former co-worker had shared a google doc containing feedback he wanted to give during his exit interview with me and a couple other people. I was the only one the CEO scolded about this. I was also berated for showing a co-worker an email I had sent “HR” with feedback about the sexual harassment training (I had been asked by management to give feedback about the training, and the co-worker specifically asked to see the email because she wanted to write her own and was unsure of how to format it.) I was also scolded for the way I gave feedback about the company’s response to women complaining about being sexually harassed outside the office.

I left the meeting in tears and quit a few weeks later. I thought a long time about pursuing legal action, but my mother had recently died and I was already spent from that and the millions of bureaucratic things that follow that. I still have nightmares about working for that company and thoroughly regret “letting it go” (obviously, I have not let it go.)

I really appreciate you speaking about your experiences — it can feel so lonely and isolating (especially when your coworkers stop talking to you as you’ve been labeled a bad egg). Hopefully things will change.

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