Rosette Laursen tells Moneyish why she posted her former boss’ sexist email for everyone to see
A onetime assistant to a Hollywood talent manager asked to take off International Women’s Day last spring to participate in “A Day Without a Woman” strike. Her boss, in return, suggested “someone should sew her vagina shut.”
That choice phrase and others saw the light of day this week when Rosette Laursen, an aspiring TV writer living in Los Angeles, posted a screenshot of the e-mail she says her boss Michael Einfeld sent to two male colleagues but mistakenly also Cc-ed her.
Einfeld — or “Jorkle,” as Laursen dubbed him in a Facebook post before ultimately identifying him — proceeded to call her an “uppity selfish c—,” declaring he was “never hiring a girl ever again.” “No bonus for anyone that strikes or leaves early in pilot season. No one is striking in show business we are all against Trump,” he allegedly wrote. “And women are considered diverse and being shoved in as writer and directors. Zach who is a Jewish male is being pushed out.” Einfeld did not return a request for comment.
“I quit,” Laursen replied. Einfeld’s alleged apology — issued in a string of texts that misspelled “misogynistic,” contained an offensive term for gay people and invoked a “Nazi death camp” — fell on deaf ears.
Laursen, 29, admitted Einfeld could sometimes be “actually really cool and funny and nice.” (“No one is bad constantly,” she wrote.) But the messages fit a pattern of abusive language he’d allegedly thrown around “a majority of the time,” she said, citing his use of the N-word, among other things.
She opted to publish the message on Facebook after Einfeld ignored repeated communications from her lawyer, who’d asked for a few months’ pay as compensation.
“I ultimately decided to reveal my boss’ emails because I don’t think Michael should be allowed to continue his inappropriate behavior with zero repercussions,” Laursen told Moneyish in an email. “If he has gotten away with it for this long, then there are probably countless similar situations in the entertainment industry that go unmentioned. This is something that needs to change.”
Laursen is far from the first ex-employee to air grievances over a hostile work environment: Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler earlier this year detailed a pattern of sexual harassment and gender bias she’d experienced throughout her tenure. Engineer Julie Ann Horvath in 2014 exited the startup GitHub, later publicly alleging discrimination and sexual harassment. And designer Amelie Lamont recounted racism and sexism from her time at Squarespace.
Those examples beg the question: Is it OK to put a former boss on blast? And if so, when?
“While the perception is this person is really brave for doing it … if you’re other employers, you shy away from those individuals,” workplace expert Dan Schawbel told Moneyish. “There’s so much talent out there, so why would you choose them over someone else when they spoke out against their employer?”
Despite the bravery involved in speaking out against a former employer, he added, “taking things public is extremely risky business.” “It hurts someone’s long-term job prospects. That’s just how it is,” Schawbel said. “I don’t know if that will ever change.”
Lynn Taylor, author of the book “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” argued it was “personal and individual to what the person feels empowers them.”
“For another person, they may feel more vindicated by letting the former boss pay through their wallet than through their public image,” she told Moneyish. “It depends on what gives the person more satisfaction after they’ve been hurt in such an intolerable way.”
Laursen’s takedown of Einfeld may hurt her career, Taylor added, but there could be a silver lining — for example, becoming a “poster child for women’s rights and respect in the workplace.”
Laursen, for her part, said response to her post had been “overwhelmingly positive.” “Even though I weighed the pros and cons of every possible path and ultimately decided the Facebook post was best, I was extremely nervous to post. I was nauseous and having heart palpitations as I clicked post on Tuesday morning,” she told Moneyish. “But I am so happy I did it.”
The experience already seems to be paying off.
“I was worried my post could harm my job opportunities, but now I feel like the fact that I took a stand was immensely respected, which gives me a lot of hope that things will change,” she said. “I have been contacted for job interviews and meetings, so so far the choice has helped me more than harmed me.”
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