THEY claimed large women lingerie it was all about empowering women.
But it wasn’t until Chanelle Rogers left the employment of risque Australian lingerie company Honey Birdette that she found her voice.
When she told a manager about a customer detailing a rape scene while she was alone in the store, she was told “turn the music up and get on with the day and don’t let it affect my sales”.
Her complaints describe a company culture of bullying, where employees are told to “suck it up” when they complain about being sexually harassed or intimidated by customers.
It has gained national attention following a protest at Honey Birdette’s Melbourne store this week.
She has been joined by other former Honey Birdette employees, known as “Honeys” by the lingerie chain, who have echoed her claims and .
Ms Rogers revealed seeing “women mocked for daring to apply for a job at Honey Birdette”.
“I saw workers humiliated and threatened by management because they weren’t wearing perfectly applied lipstick all day, their heels weren’t high enough, and because they didn’t ‘talk the way a Honey should talk’.”
The way a Honey should talk, Ms Rogers says, is detailed in a “handbook” which encourages staff to “pout” and use phrases like “come hither” and “spank me if I’m wrong” when dealing with customers of what is billed on Honey Birdette’s Facebook page as “Australia’s first sensuality boutique”.
Ms Rogers also said the company’s “suggestion” that staff didn’t take breaks resulted in “hours and hours of unpaid overtime we were expected to do”.
“From starting early and finishing late, to skipping lunch breaks and toilet breaks due to the pressure of missing a sale,” she said.
Honey Birdette has stayed largely silent, but labelled the reports “mistruths”.
“We are all about empowering women and supporting our wonderful staff. We are disappointed about the mistruths that have been reported recently,” customer relations manager Claire Mast said in an email.
“Thank you large women lingerie for your concern, at this stage Honey Birdette does not wish to comment further.”
Ms Rogers isn’t surprised by the silence: she claims that’s pretty much what she got from management after detailing to them her terrifying 15-minute encounter with a customer when alone at work two years ago.
“He wanted a specific item, and I was trying to help him, when it got weird,” Ms Rogers told news.com.au.
“He was following me around the store, at some times standing right behind me, as he talked, and I’d move away and he would follow. He started talking about watching his wife being cornered in a room by 15 men, all trying to sexually assault her.
“I ended up on one side of the counter, just desperate to put some space between us.
“He became more explicit, talking about basically a scene of rape, telling me in explicit detail about the pleasure he gained from the voyeurism.delivering the Honey Birdette experience to you”.
“Our Honeys are here to not only empower women but to entertain them. They are never afraid of a little showbiz and razzle-dazzle, the kind of exaggerated playfulness that many fashion brands lack,” it continues.
The chain’s Facebook page has today played host to criticism from customers in the wake of the protest, with calls to improve work practices, or lose customers.
Britta Chu wrote: “Until your stances on sexual harassment, workplace safety and the rights of your workers are reviewed and implemented I will not shop at your stores anymore. I will also encourage any family or friends to do so.”
Rachel Katz large women lingerie said: “It’s nearly 2017 … decent treatment of staff, paying them for working overtime, and their general safety should be a no brainier.”