A New York City bartender's online post identifying and shaming a hedge fund investment manager for groping her has brought both attention toward misogyny in restaurant settings and threats from the man she identified as the culprit.
Gothamist and Salon both reprinted Laura Ramadei's open letter to Brian Lederman, in which she says Lederman groped her while she was taking his order at the Lucky Strike bar in SoHo. The message, originally posted on her Facebook page, had reportedly been shared around 2,000 times by Thursday afternoon.
"When I asked you and your companion if you'd be eating, or needing anything else from me, you put your hand -- ever so gently -- ON MY ASS and asked if you could take me 'to go,'" Ramadei wrote. "When I immediately stepped away and said 'Sorry, what?' you probably gathered that I was and am not receptive of such advances from customers."
Ramadei, an actress, also accused Lederman of leaving a $2 tip on a $15.24 tab, and said the experience led her to quit her job and describe the alleged encounter in hopes it would lead readers to reconsider how they treat women and servers.
"Over the years my knowledge and skill set have expanded, but I seem to be getting worse at tolerating the 'service' part," she said about her years as a bartender. "I deal with incredible amounts of entitlement, condescension, and drunk nonsense. And at a bar, it is impossible to ignore the fact that misogyny is alive and well."
Lederman, who works for Swiss Performance Management & Fiduciary, denied touching Ramadei inappropriately in an interview with the New York Post, though he admitted to groping other women.
"I've grabbed plenty of girls' asses in my life," he was quoted as saying. "But I've never grabbed hers."
He did say he "kiddingly" told Ramadei, 'I would like you to go with nothing on it,' while threatening to sue her for defamation.
"That f*cking c*nt, for her to do something like that is pretty ridiculous," Lederman said. "I will make sure she doesn't get another job in New York City. I know everybody. The bar owners, the club owners — that's a terrible thing to write about somebody."
However, Ramadei stuck by her story in a separate statement to the Post.
"He placed what felt like three fingers on my left butt cheek," she said. "It was very subtle, but it was definite contact."
She also told the Huffington Post that she did not mean for the letter to spur attacks against Lederman or his family, and the reason she mentioned her attire -- a "loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup" -- at the time of the encounter.
"I hesitated before including that info, knowing that I could potentially feed a 'slut-shaming' pattern, but chose to include it, along with information about the time and nature of the location," she was quoted as saying. "I know that some people reading the account might have pictured a busy, loud, dark, drunken bar. I wanted to paint a full picture of the event so as to remind readers that this sort of thing goes on all of the time, in every environment."
The letter, as posted on Monday, can be read in full below.
You came into the restaurant where I work and ordered a Stoli on the rocks. When I asked you and your companion if you'd be eating, or needing anything else from me, you put your hand - ever so gently - ON MY ASS and asked if you could take me "to go". When I immediately stepped away and said "Sorry, what?" you probably gathered that I was and am not receptive of such advances from customers. We were in a family-friendly restaurant, around 6:30pm, and I was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup...so I'm not sure where the confusion arose as to what kind of service you were being provided. You left soon after, leaving a signed credit card slip and a two dollar tip (see picture included!). Your name is Brian Lederman. I found you, instantly, via a quick Google search online. I looked at your face on Linked In, the World's Largest Professional Network. You work at Swiss Performance Management and Truehand AG, in Investment Management. Of course you do.
I work as a bartender, and have for more than five years now. I graduated NYU with honors, and have at some point held down every conceivable part time type job including but not limited to food service, administration, and even temp work at firms such as yours. So far, bartending allows me the most flexibility to pursue my artistic career, while comfortably covering my basic living expenses, including my outrageously high student loan payments. I have a good job that I'm grateful for. The environment is low key, I have incredibly supportive coworkers and managers, and - in general - the clientele is nice.
But I still hate being a bartender. Over the years my knowledge and skill set have expanded, but I seem to be getting worse at tolerating the "service" part. I deal with incredible amounts of entitlement, condescension, and drunk nonsense. And at a bar, it is impossible to ignore the fact that misogyny is alive and well. I can't tell you how many times people have treated me horribly and I've memorized or photographed the names from their credit cards, fantasizing about internet revenge. But every time I've been tempted in the past (even after verbal attacks, physical affronts, or sexual harassment) I've stopped myself and let it go.
So congratulations, Brian! You've done it! You broke this tired ass camel's back. And though this is obviously a public shaming, I truly don't mean this as an attack. Maybe - just maybe - via the intimately connected internet world, my post will reach you, and you'll learn something about how hurtful and upsetting a small comment or gesture might be. Or at the very least, maybe a Facebook passerby will read this and more deeply consider how they treat women, how they treat servers, and/or how they treat other people in general. And thank you. Without your inspiration I wouldn't be quitting my job today, and endeavoring a better chapter of my life.
p.s. Everyone else - please be kind to your server. If your drink took a while, it might just be because your bartender was rage crying about misogyny in the bathroom. Also because if you're not nice to her, she just might memorize the name from your credit card, find you online, hunt you down, and pee in your bed while you're sleeping.
p.p.s. I'm looking for work to sustain me until all of my acting dreams come true! Something that requires only 30ish flexible hours a week and that covers NYC rent and NYU student loan payments. Open to all ideas and input.