Showbiz is a notoriously racist, sexist, and misogynistic industry, and not just on screen. A former employee at a Hollywood talent agency is making news for publicly posting an email allegedly from her boss that called her an “uppity selfish c*nt,” and a followup "apology" text that allegedly makes joking reference to Nazi death camps, among other things. The alleged sexist messages are truly horrific for anyone who’s ever had a boss, but the viral Facebook post contains an important message about how hard it can be to leave a toxic work environment.
Rosette Laursen posted images of the alleged exchange with her boss, whom she reveals to be Michael Einfeld of Michael Einfeld Management, to Facebook on Tuesday night, along with a post that almost immediately went viral. “I was nauseous and having heart palpitations as I clicked post on Tuesday morning,” Laursen told Bustle via Facebook Messenger. “But I am so happy I did it. The amount of support has been amazing.” Michael Einfeld Management did not respond to a Bustle request for comment, and Bustle will update this post if and when a comment is issued.
In her post, Rosette alleges that she had asked her boss for the “equivalent of an unpaid sick day” in order to participate in the Day Without A Woman this past March. “I emailed [my boss] that I would love to spend the day writing, as my career goal is to be a TV Writer, and unfortunately writers’ rooms are very dominantly male, even in 2017,” Laursen wrote in her Facebook post. (The Day Without A Woman was meant to be an exercise in demonstrating women’s economic power by having them strike on International Women’s Day.) Einfeld allegedly replied-all to the email on accident.
“Are you fucking kidding me. At the end of pilot season. Someone should sew her vagina shut. I’m never hiring. A girl ever again [sic],” Einfeld allegedly said in his all-staff email, which Laursen says was meant for her two male coworkers.
“No one is striking in show business we are all against trump,” he continued. “And women are considered diverse and being shoved in as writer and directors. Zach who is a Jewish male.is being pushed out [sic].”
You can read the full alleged exchange here:
After that point, Laursen says, she received an alleged apology text from Einfeld:
Laursen says in her post that she responded simply by saying, “I quit.” She debated litigating against her boss for a few months' pay, but ultimately decided that, rather than taking him to court, where the emails would become part of the public record anyway, she should just post them herself.
One enormous reason her post is going viral is not just for the astonishing sexism allegedly demonstrated by her boss; it’s the fact that this type of verbal abuse is so common, not just in Hollywood, but in industries all over. In her original Facebook post, Laursen wrote:
“This might have happened to me on ‘A Day Without A Woman’ but I think many assistants suffer hostile work environments. Both men and women experience verbal abuse, but are afraid to stand up for themselves. They are willing to put up with things that are absolutely crossing a line because the job will look good on a resume for the next step in their careers, or hope the connections made through the job might be beneficial. But there needs to be a basic level of respect from our bosses.”
“The truth [is], he isn’t all bad. We bonded over our love of Broadway Musicals and had some really good laughs. And that's why it's harder to get out of these situations. It is similar to feeling trapped with a physically abusive partner or family member. I’ve also been in that position and it would have been a lot easier to leave quickly if they were only awful. But no one is. That is the truly sad thing about leaving an abusive situation, because you are leaving someone who is sometimes human and good.”
“There is an attitude in so many workplaces that if you don’t like something there are dozens of eager replacements waiting to take your spot,” Laursen tells Bustle. “But I also believe that life is short and assistants should not spend their time putting up with abuse.”
According to Forbes.com, workplace bullying affects 75 percent of employees, across many different industries. The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) reports that 45 percent of those who are bullied in their workplace suffer from stress-related health issues. In 2014, WBI also reported that 60 percent of workplace bullying targets are female, while 69 percent of perpetrators are male.
Laursen says that she thinks that people put up with this harassment much more in careers where people have a personal stake in the job. “A lot of the Hollywood jobs are stepping stones to dream careers, and not just careers to pay the bills. Therefore there is more pressure to put up with things that are crossing a line,” she tells Bustle.
No matter the reasons for staying in a job where you’re being harassed or bullied, the public support for Laursen’s coming forward proves that sexist or abusive language is unequivocally unacceptable in any environment, not just the workplace. You have the right to work without just "letting things go" or engaging in disrespectful language yourself. And bosses, especially ones with a chronic disrespect for their employees, will be held accountable for their actions.