Strange Bedfellows–Part 1
Hamilton Garramond III sat in his mahogany-walled office surrounded by rich leather chairs, reading his copy of Forbes. As president of a national pharmacy chain, he was pleased to receive the recent media coverage of the company's marketing coup. While he was immersed in thought, Amanda, his executive secretary, approached.
"Excuse me, Mr. Garramond," she said politely, "I think you better look at this right away." She handed him a four-page handwritten letter from James Varanzet.
Hamilton put his magazine aside and began to read:
Dear Mr. Garramond:
I've been employed as a pharmacist at Garramond Retail Enterprises for the past three years. During that time, I have performed well and enjoyed my experience. However, recently my district manager counseled me for performance problems, and, unfortunately, I'm continuing to decline. I was too ashamed to tell my manager what was really causing my problems, but now things have escalated to the point that I need to reveal all that has happened. I have nowhere to turn and need your help.
I am gay and have been open about my sexual preference from the time that I began working for the company. For the first couple years, I had no problems with any member of management or my co-workers. However, Rod Bendellen, your security auditor who has been assigned to monitor inventories at the store during the past year, has been sexually harassing me for the last eight months.
It all started when he asked me to have dinner with him after we completed the store's inventory one evening. He asked me questions about my gay lifestyle and wanted to know how I had discovered my sexuality. Then he asked me how I got dates. Eventually, each time he'd visit the district, he'd ask me to dinner, and his questions became more and more intimate. Next, he started revealing things about himself. He told me he was having difficulty with his wife and wanted to explore his sexuality with me. Before I knew it, he asked me to go to bed with him.
Naturally I refused because I'm involved in a committed relationship, but Rod kept persisting. Initially his persistence came in the form of repeated requests. He kept telling me how he liked my looks and various parts of my body. Then he came right out and asked if he could perform oral gratification for me. When I refused, he used other tactics. He started fondling me at the store in the evening when we'd go over inventory and no other employees were around. I asked him to refrain from this behavior, but he kept hassling me. Frankly, I didn't know where to turn, so I just kept silent.
Ultimately he became verbally aggressive, saying he didn't understand why I refused. Then he threatened me with my job and said he would set me up for criminal charges by finding shortages in the pharmacy if I didn't cooperate. He said that he could get me thrown in jail for theft and drug charges and that once I was there, I would be everyone's sexual play toy. Mr. Garramond, I was so scared that I finally gave in and went to his hotel. Now, he insists that I have sex with him every week when he's in the district. He calls me in the middle of the night and tells me that he needs to be with me-—that he's sexually frustrated. I'm sick of being frightened all the time. I find him repulsive and the whole situation unbearable.
Mr. Garramond, this has caused me both mental and physical problems. I am seeing a doctor for ulcers, and I have difficulty concentrating on my work. As a pharmacist, I can't afford to make mistakes. I haven't told anyone about this because I'm afraid of Rod. He's an ex-Marine MP and could easily break me in two. I also don't want to lose my job over this. Please, protect me and make him stop sexually harassing me. I trust my letter will remain confidential.
"Holy Moly!" Hamilton paled. "Get a hold of Stanton Fieldcrest at our law firm, and tell Zack to come up here immediately," he directed Amanda, who was standing by for directions.
"Yes, sir," she answered.
Zack Horvaniz was the vice president of human resources. When he arrived, he spotted Hamilton clutching his stomach. Zack rushed over to Hamilton's desk. "Amanda sent me your red alert. Gosh, Ham, you look sick. Should I call Doc Mankoff or do you need 911?"
"No, no. Sit down," Hamilton instructed, waving the letter toward him. "Read this." He flipped the letter frisbee-style across the desk to Zack.
Zack caught the letter in midair. As he finished the first page, Zack looked up at Hamilton. "I know this guy. I've worked on several cases with him. Rod's a big, burly fellow."
"Read on," Hamilton said, "it gets worse."
When Zack finished, he shook his head in disbelief. "I can't imagine that any of this is true. It just doesn't fit with his profile. You'd have to see this guy!"
"What if it is true?" Hamilton asked, clearly horrified.
"Well, whether it is or it isn't, we still have to treat it like any sexual harassment case," Zack informed him.
"It makes me sick," Hamilton frowned. "It's one thing to be gay; it's another thing to have to hear about it."
"To tell you the truth, Ham, I'm not looking forward to the gory details myself," Zack admitted.
"Look, I've got a call into Stanton at legal. I'll brief him, and then the two of you can get together if this thing escalates. I don't want the press down my throat. With all this business about gays in the military, I don't need to blemish all the great PR we've just received. Do me a favor, just make this one go away, will you?" Hamilton insisted.
"I'll do my best," Zack said, feigning optimism.
Zack contacted James at Store 578 and set up an appointment for a conference at the district office. "I am dreading this," Zack thought, feeling squeamish. This was his first gay harassment case as an HR Manager, and he knew he had to be extra careful with his investigation procedures. Zack braced himself as he listened to James recount the graphic details of the events that occurred in the pharmacy. Although James provided specific dates and times, he couldn't produce any witnesses to corroborate the incidents. It was clear to Zack that James found the process painful, so Zack did his best to listen objectively and take detailed notes.
To find out what happens next when Zack gathered information from the security audior, Rod Bendellen, click here.
Excerpted from Sex, Laws, & Stereotypes, by N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.©