The manager of a popular Chili’s restaurant in Pennsylvania and several other staff members were fired after sending an expletive-covered “shaming” cake to a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment.
Emily Houser, now 18, was working as a teenage waitress at Chili’s two years ago when, she said, she started getting harassed, stalked and abused by her manager, 26-year-old Josh Davidson.
“[The] new manager found particular interest in me and began forcing me to go on dates with him. He would just show up to my house uninvited and say he was outside and I had to come with him,” Ms Houser told BuzzFeed News.
“Over a two-year period, it just kind of escalated into him providing me with gifts of significance and money and flowers and cards and things that I wasn’t really accepting of, things that made me extremely uncomfortable because I was not sure what he expected of me from these gifts.”
The harassment carried on over the next two years. Then on Houser’s 18th birthday, Davidson showed up in her high school car park, showered her in gifts and publicly asked her out — to which she said no.
Unfazed, the restaurant manager kept pursuing her for months, repeatedly showing up at her house in the middle of the night and verbally abusing her at work.
That was the last straw for Houser. She gave in her two weeks’ notice and made a formal complaint to the Chili’s corporate headquarters accusing Davidson of sexual harassment.
Following an investigation, the manager was transferred to another branch in Montgomery, Pennsylvania.
But the relocation stuck in the craw of Houser’s co-workers, who decided to throw a “F*** Emily Houser” party, complete with an eponymous cake and shared the whole thing on Instagram image with the hashtag #teamjosh.
“Have your cake and eat it too hoe #petty,” said the caption.
Houser said she felt numb and betrayed after seeing the pictures online because she believed her colleagues were close friends.
“I didn’t know how to feel, except I just didn’t really feel anything,” she told Buzz Feed.
“And then I just 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.”
A statement sent to Buzzfeed News confirmed Davidson and other staff members who had been involved in the planning of the party were no longer with the company.
“We do not condone and are disappointed by the actions that took place. When this issue surfaced, our franchise partner conducted a thorough investigation,” it said.