My story after being sexually harassed at work
My name is Maureen Vallot Greene and I’m from Louisiana. I’ve been repeatedly sexually harassed on the job, and fired in retaliation for standing up for myself. This has created economic instability for my family, as the sole financial provider for the past two decades, and has left me emotionally devastated.
In the first job where I was sexually harassed by my boss, I had previously won two awards for outstanding work performance. Yet, after I reported my boss’ illegal behavior, I was fired for ”poor work performance.” Since then, I’ve been sexually harassed at another job, retaliated against, and fired. I was fired from that first job twenty years ago this month, and I’ve been fighting to clear my name this whole time.
As someone with two degrees in criminal justice, I was appalled at how my court cases involving sexual harassment were handled. Rather than getting the justice I deserved, I was called the “harasser” and my actual harassers got off scot-free. In fact, I’ve now been banned out of court, had a judgement issued against me with a fine of $10,000-$15,000 and the threat of jail time over my head if I continue to try to clear my name. After all these years, these false allegations are still displayed on the internet for anyone to access, damaging my name.
At the time I was fired from both these jobs, my husband was disabled, I was caring for my three sons and my little brother, and we just couldn’t make it anymore. The result was that we had to file for bankruptcy. This was incredibly upsetting and placed undue stress on my family and me, and has made it extremely hard to get back on my feet. To make matters worse, as I’ve struggled through the after-effects of sexual harassment and retaliation, I’ve watched as my harassers and the people who defended them climbed to greater levels of power and prestige.
Years later, when I lived by myself, I had to leave my home because I couldn’t afford to fix burst pipes that made it unlivable. I was homeless, bouncing from couch to couch, close to sleeping in my car, and eventually finding a soft landing place with a friend, which enabled me to get back on my feet.
The emotional toll on me has been significant. No one should have to deal with these sorts of inappropriate and upsetting advances time and time again. Even once is too much! You’ve got to have people who have your back — I’ve been in counseling on and off over the years, and relied on friends, family, and organizations like 9to5 for support.
Unfortunately, my situation isn’t rare but it should be! That’s why I continue to speak out. Yes, I’ve struggled, but I am happy knowing that I can share my story to support others facing situations like mine and to bring us closer to ending sexual harassment. If one person reads this and knows they aren’t alone, then I’ll be glad. It’s going to take many of us in the fight to stop sexual harassment on the job but I know we can make an impact.