A former carpenter in the Guthrie shop resigned Tuesday, citing sexism and harassment. (Photo by Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune)
The Guthrie Theater will investigate claims from a former employee that the "organization breeds a culture that has kept and continues to keep women down."
On Tuesday, a woman who worked as a carpenter in the Guthrie shop shared her resignation letter on Facebook. In it, she describes a culture of sexual harassment and inequity. It reads, in part:
Management is aware of the scene shops concerns about our manager. He breeds a sexist culture and continues to encourage it. I have seen him stand by while women are mocked and belittled, none of the managers even noticed the off color jokes and behavior. Even when a coworker told a crude rape joke at morning meeting the two ATD’s laughed at it. This is the Guthrie I worked at. I hoped so badly that they could change, if not for me then for the female carpenters to come after me. I don’t want another woman to hate coming to work for fear of what might be said to her, I don’t want her to cry in the bathroom, to have to remind herself that this is the dream just stick it out you have to tolerate it. I don’t want her to brush off the fact that the men put their hands on her, even when repeatedly asked to stop. I don’t want her to be physically blocked after an assault by another man from going to HR to report it. That is my Guthrie, those are my experiences. I wanted so badly for it to change, my dream is shattered.
The woman said that she reached out to Guthrie management "countless times." But despite being "listened to every time," silence followed, she said.
In a statement, the Guthrie's artistic director Joseph Haj said the Guthrie is taking the allegation "very seriously," and will launch an independent investigation. Here is that statement, in full:
Over the last two years we’ve been actively working to address cultural and workplace issues to ensure a workplace where everyone is valued and respected. This work has been done throughout the organization, and specifically in our scene shop, based on concerns that were raised by employees.
This week, executive leadership was made aware of a specific allegation of unwanted and inappropriate behavior, and that an employee was prevented from reporting that behavior to Human Resources. We take this allegation very seriously. We have moved immediately to take action, meeting with board leadership and engaging an independent party to launch a full and complete investigation.
We are committed to learning all of the facts and to taking appropriate actions. We remain fully committed to achieving meaningful cultural change within our organization.
Meanwhile, a fellow employee says he has resigned in solidarity with his co-worker, the carpenter. In a Facebook post, that person called for the Guthrie to "own and publicly acknowledge the fact that their current culture is one of fear: fear of retaliation for speaking out and standing up."