Here is a quick lesson in how to treat wait staff, or simply other human beings: Don't grope them without consent. Do not do this ever, but especially do not do this if you do not know the waiter/other human being, or if you have severely underestimated her or his intelligence and capability for seeking vengeance. If you do, you might be a) charged with sexual assault and/or harassment, or b) publicly shamed by a bright, pissed-off bartender who has been treated like a toy for the last time.
Laura Ramadei, an actor and bartender who works in New York City, decided to take the second course of action after she was allegedly groped by a hedge funder named Brian Lederman recently while she was at work. In a powerful open letter that has gone viral on social media, Ramadei claims that Lederman grabbed her butt when she approached his table to take his order, then gave her a shoddy tip when she verbally rebuked him for sexually harassing her. Here is the letter in full:
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.
Before learning of Ramadei's letter, Lederman denied ever touching the bartender in an interview with the New York Post, saying, "I’ve grabbed plenty of girls’ asses in my life ... but I’ve never grabbed hers.” After hearing about the viral post, though, Lederman changed his story -- and tossed in a subtle threat:
“I clearly remember making a joke when the girl said, ‘What would you like,’ ” he said. “I kiddingly said, ‘I would like you to go with nothing on it.’ ”
He said he was furious that she claimed he did more than spew sleaze.
“That f–king c–t, for her to do something like that is pretty ridiculous,” he told The Post.
He then threatened to make sure she doesn’t serve lunch in this town again.
“I will make sure she doesn’t get another job in New York City. I know everybody,” he raged. “The bar owners, the club owners — that’s a terrible thing to write about somebody.”
And all the more terrible if it's true! Lederman has threatened to sue Ramadei for defamation. Maybe she'll fire back with a sexual harassment suit.