When 18-year-old Emily Houser from Pennsylvania reported her manager for sexual harassment, her collegauges – who she considered friends – threw a party. Not for her, for the man who relentlessly pursued a relationship with her for two years, starting when she was just 16-years-old.
Houser says the harassment began when the restaurant she worked at hired a new manager, Josh Davidson, who was 24 when he started working at the local Chili’s franchise.
“[The] new manager found particular interest in me and began forcing me to go on dates with him,” Houser told Buzzfeed News. “He would just show up to my house uninvited and say he was outside and I had to come with him.”
Houser says the harassment esculated from there and for two years, Davidson would push significant gifts, flowers, cards and money on her – making her feel “extremely uncomfortable.”
“I was not sure what he expected of me from these gifts,” she explained.
When Davidson showed up at Houser’s house at 2:30 in the morning to give her a card filled with hundreds of dollars, she refused to accept it and told him to back off. “I was so obviously not interested in him and did not want to be with him,” she said.
As a result, Davidson started to be verbally and physically abusive towards Houser at work.
Houser decided to report the situation when Davidson started to take an interest in another young girl at the restaurant. “I decided I should report the situation because even though I came out of the situation fine, I don’t know how another young girl is going to feel,” she explained.
After she reported the sexual harassment and handed in her two weeks' notice, the restaurant conducted an investigation and decided to relocate Davidson to another store - not fire him.
On his last day, several workers threw him a “F**ck Emily Houser” party – complete with a cake.
Houser found out about the cake when she saw a photo of it on Instagram with the caption, “Have your cake and eat it too hoe #petty”.
After seeing the post, Houser says she felt numb. “I didn’t know how to feel,” she said. “I 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.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed News, a Chili’s spokesperson said the team members involved are no longer with the company and confirmed that Davidson had been fired.
Houser said she was incredibly relieved when she learnt Davidson had lost his job. “If he’s actually been removed from the company, then I’ll be happy, not that he’s out of a job, but that he’s not able to do this to anyone else,” she said.
As for her former colleagues, Houser says she hopes they understand how serious and hurtful their actions can be. “I just want them to stop, because this is the kind of thing that people commit suicide over,” she said.