Jennifer Williams began working at Harrison’s comic book store in Salem, Mass. a week ago, excited to work around the comics that she had grown up loving. Two days later, she was fired without explanation, not even allowed to enter the store by her own account. Now Williams is claiming that her termination resulted from a complaint she had made against her superior for calling a storage room “the rape room,” reported The Raw Story.
Jennifer tweeted about being fired on September 2, but she had already noted that the “rape room” joke had happened a few days beforehand on her Twitter account. Williams claims that she complained to the owner, Larry Harrison, about being offended by the rape joke that the other employee, Julian, had made.
Williams further elaborated on the story on Keep It Klassy, Salem — a local Facebook page.
“On Saturday I was given a tour of the store. The back room was introduced as the rape room. I said ‘That’s not okay.’ He replied ‘It is if they can’t talk.'”
After Williams was fired, she continued to post more tweets in an attempt to attract attention to her story. She added allegations that Julian had put his arm around her in a way that she found invasive.
As the situation attracted more attention from national news media, Harrison called Jennifer to discuss the situation with her, which Williams recounted in a blog post following the conversation.
“[Larry] is claiming that the reason I was fired was because supposedly my coworkers said they did not want to work with me, but fully admitted that he considers me a good employee and that he personally did not receive any complaints about me. I very specifically and pointedly asked him if during the two days I was there anyone, customer or employee, had said anything negative about me or expressed any concerns about me, and he said that there were none. I pointed out to him the fact that Julian had told me on Sunday that I was one of the people being kept on, and that the schedule had been adjusted to reflect that, and he said he didn’t know what to say to that, that he could only speak to what was said to him after I was fired.”
However, a post on Harrison’s official Facebook page contends that a joke was never made about a “rape room” by Julian.
“If you’ve been in our Salem store, you know we have many statues displayed in locked cases throughout the store… the boxes are stored in the “statue room,” a practice that’s been in place for at least ten years… While the group of trainee employees were being shown the room it was referred to only as the “statue room” or the “stat room” for short. This prompted one of the new trainees (not Ms. Williams) to question “Stat, like stat rape?” The group trainer frowned at the employee who mentioned rape and sternly said “We do NOT have a rape room.” This was the first and last time “a rape room” was ever mentioned in Harrison’s until Ms. Williams’ took to social media and we were put in the position of having to defend ourselves.”
While details are still emerging about the incident, police have taken an official statement from Jennifer about the incident, again according to her personal Twitter account.
What do you think? Is the “rape room” joke an instance of rape culture rearing its ugly head, or another attention-seeking story made up to gain exposure?
[Image via Facebook]