News / Edmonton

Needle Tavern taking 'immediate steps' after employee allegations of sexual harassment

Two employees have quit over what they say is an unwelcoming work environment for women

The Needle Vinyl Tavern

File photo

The Needle Vinyl Tavern

An employee of The Needle Vinyl Tavern quit her job Friday, saying the owners refused to address a "toxic" work environment for women.

Brittany Rudyck worked as a bartender at The Needle, a popular downtown music venue, from March to November 2016, at which point she was promoted to work in promotions and marketing. She held that position until last week.

Rudyck claims that, back in March, one of the owners came in “blackout drunk” during a function and groped her.

She didn’t quit at the time, Rudyck said, because she needed the income, had amicable relationships with her co-workers and managers, and the owners didn’t come in that often. She didn't report the incident to the police, or file a civil lawsuit, because she was worried people wouldn't believe her.

“I was afraid maybe I didn’t have a ground to stand on or maybe I didn’t have enough (proof),” Rudyck said. “It would be three men in positions of power who have money and connections against me.”

However, Rudyck said the final straw came Friday when she learned the bar hired a person with a history of harassing women. She said the owners brushed off her concerns and those of several other employees.

“Basically the response that was given to us from one of the owners did not address any of our concerns.... It was very much a canned response,” Rudyck said.

After she quit, she posted a message to Facebook that has been shared more than 500 times.

Metro's calls to The Needle on Monday evening were not returned by press time.

The Needle issued a statement via Facebook on Monday saying it has “zero tolerance” for behaviour by staff or patrons that creates an unsafe environment.

“Our management team and ownership take these allegations very seriously and we are taking immediate steps to ensure that The Needle remains a safe environment for lovers of music in the Edmonton region,” the statement reads. It added that an individual has been removed from any active role at the venue until further notice — though it was not immediately clear whom.

Rudyck said one of the owners has also apologized to her on Facebook.

She hopes her story will get people thinking about sexual harassment and assault in the hospitality industry.

“After all of this is said and done, at least I said something. So hopefully other people feel empowered to speak out against other people treating them unjustly.... I hope this brings something positive.”

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