A woman has sparked a conversation about workplace sexual harassment after revealing that she changed the way she dresses for work after a coworker made her feel “extremely uncomfortable” for wearing leggings.
Fena Reti, who goes by the username @fena_reti on TikTok, described the incident of alleged harassment in a video posted last week, in which the factory worker revealed that she had dressed in sweatpants after the encounter to “feel safe from the male gaze,” but that her coworker had again commented on her appearance.
“A coworker I just met made me feel extremely uncomfortable for wearing leggings,” Reti wrote in the caption of her TikTok. “So today I dressed up how I usually do to feel safe from the male gaze.”
In the video, Reti then stood back from the camera to show her outfit of gray sweatpants, with the TikTok user revealing that her coworker had then commented on that outfit as well.
“When he saw me, he stopped me and said: ‘Can I just say that, no matter how pretty you are, you look like sh*t today,’” Reti wrote in the video caption.
The video, which has been viewed more than 900,000 times, prompted comments from numerous viewers urging Reti to report the incident to her company’s human resources department.
“Hi, HR here. This is called a hostile work environment and it’s very illegal,” one person wrote. “Please call your HR or file a complaint with EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]!”
Another person wrote: “I recommend documenting it and reporting it to your manager.”
The video was also met with comments from TikTok users sharing their experiences with similar workplace harassment, with one person commenting: “We just want to exist without being harassed.”
Someone else wrote: “Warehouse worker here. I literally changed my wardrobe and buy only extremely oversized clothes for work to avoid men comments EVERY. SINGLE. DAY,” prompting Reti to respond: “SAME! I spent so much money on oversized clothing. I even changed the wayI walk to look unfeminine.”
While many viewers urged Reti to report the incident, she revealed in a follow-up video why that can be difficult, with the TikTok user creating the clip in response to a comment on her original video that read: “Sure that happened.”
“I made a video yesterday about sexual harassment at my workplace. People said I should report it. This comment might help you see how easily victims are believed,” the TikTok user said.
In the clip, Reti then shared a screenshot of a conversation that took place between her and a friend about the harassment incident as “proof” to back up her claims, with the messages showing how the warehouse worker had recounted the experience to her friend.
“As if my whole purpose on this earth is to be eye-candy for men,” Reti concluded the video.
In response to one viewer who wrote in the comments that they “always believe” anyone who claims to be a victim of such harassment, Reti responded: “Thank you. I wish men realised how often it actually happens. They think we’re being dramatic.”
Speaking to The Independent about the alleged workplace harassment, Reti revealed that she decided to speak with an HR representative at her company “about the general issue that we have been facing in our warehouse for the past three years”.
According to Reti, the conversation was emotional, as she revealed that she was “sobbing” while speaking with the HR manager about the alleged workplace harassment, and that it marked the second time she had cried while reporting similar incidents.
“This is the second time I sobbed in front of an HR representative, last time was two years ago for the exact same reason,” Reti said, adding that she asked the manager to include a statement about the company’s harassment policies and “what is and what isn’t appropriate behaviour at the workplace” in the company’s weekly newsletter.
According to the TikTok user, she decided to address the situation in this way, before “reporting names,” because she feels “safer”.
As for the response to her viral video, Reti said that she was “shocked and heartbroken” by the number of women who revealed that they have experienced similar harassment.
“In the comments, so many women going through exactly the same thing. I felt less alone,” she said.
The response also left Reti with a “sense of responsibility,” as she explained that she wants to “spread the message that we do not owe men anything”.
While many of the comments were supportive, she also noted that she has received some backlash from men “blaming” her and suggesting that she learn to “clap back” in response to the workplace encounters.
Ultimately, Reti said that she hopes the video highlights the need for a “systematic change of the way people think they can act inside the workplace”.
“And I also hope to encourage other women to report issues of harassment,” she continued, adding that she hopes her viewers will “feel safe that they will be believed and helped”.