Geoff Carens geoff.carens at gmail.com
Mon Nov 12 15:41:56 PST 2012

Dear All,

In February and March, Johany Pilar, a long-serving Harvard employee who is
an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, was sexually harassed at work by
a much older, larger, married male co-worker. Johany has faced relentless
attacks and retaliation by management ever since she reported the unwanted
advances and aggressive grabbing.

When she first complained of the harassment, management engaged in classic
victim-blaming, telling her she gives too many hugs and ordering her not to
hug anyone on the job. Johany was even directed to train her harasser,
which led to more unwanted, aggressive physical contact. In May a manager
insistently demanded she cancel a therapy appointment she had set up to
deal with the harassment. He made this demand despite knowing very well
what the appointment was for. His pressure was so intense and upsetting
Johany had a panic attack at work. In June another administrator confronted
her first thing in the morning and threatened her with an unspecified "big,
big problem." In September this threat was carried out when Johany received
an unfair disciplinary letter warning her she could soon be fired. In 15
years' service at Harvard, Johany never received any discipline until she
reported being harassed.

Eight student organizations and the Industrial Workers of the World
published an open letter <http://www.perspy.com/?p=1050> to Harvard's Labor
Relations Dept., decrying Johany's treatment. Johany movingly described how
the punishment for standing up for her rights has affected her at a meeting
on rape culture<http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/10/12/mailroom-worker-reports-harassment/>attended
by campus feminists. Johany filed complaints of gender
discrimination and retaliation at the Massachusetts Commission Against
Discrimination (MCAD). Scores of workers and students
her defense, and two of her co-workers bravely spoke on her behalf at
the public action.

The only response to date has been management's announcement that Johany,
and the two colleagues who stood up for her in public, are now newly
considered "essential staff," meaning they are expected to report to work
even when the campus is closed for emergencies like the recent hurricane.
Harvard workers believe this is another effort to hit back at Johany,
isolate her and punish her supporters. One of the workers in question has
diabetic foot disease and walks with braces, and Johany has a heart
condition which management knows about, so being required to work during
weather emergencies could put them both in physical danger.

We must not allow a sickening conspiracy by Harvard administrators to drive
this brave worker from her job! Please join Johany and her supporters at a
rally and march, beginning this Friday, 11/16, at 12 noon in Harvard
Square. We will gather at Harvard's Holyoke Center, 1350 Mass. Ave., next
to Au Bon Pain and half a block from the main entrance of the Harvard
Square red line MBTA stop. A map is
For the Facebook event, please click

Defeat rape culture! An Injury to one is an injury to all!

Geoff Carens, Union Rep, Harvard Union of Clerical & Technical
Workers/AFSCME Local 3650
Member, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
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