Lisa Koopman has launched a campaign and Labour Court case against her former employer. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency
Lisa Koopman has launched a campaign and Labour Court case against her former employer. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency

‘Colleague said he wanted to put his penis in my mouth’

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Jan 26, 2020

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Cape Town - A Bellville woman is so traumatised by the sexual harassment she said she was subjected to at a Cape Town call centre that she is unable to step back into a corporate environment.

Lisa Koopman, 26, has a pending Labour Court case against her former employer, DigiOutbound, and is determined to have her case heard.

She worked for the company in 2015, but it was when she started at DigiOutbound - a separate department in the business - in October 2017 that the harassment began.

Koopman says when she joined, she walked into an environment where “everything was loud, laid-back and chilled, but something was off I thought I needed to change to my vision”.

During her 16-month tenure, Koopman says she was panic-stricken every day because of the sexual harassment, bullying and body shaming she was subjected to by male colleagues and managers. She recalled one day walking into the office kitchen to make coffee and being told by a colleague that he wanted to “rip-off my tights, throw my leg over the counter and do me from behind”.

Koopman alleges it was also common practice for male colleagues and managers to hover over women seated at their desks, press their genitals against their female colleagues and then shout across the room: “Why are you looking at my penis?” and fellow colleagues would laugh.

She says during a meeting, a manager asked everyone to leave except her, and as her colleagues stepped out of the room, the manager told staff he needed to be alone with Koopman because he was going to “put his **** in her bek” (put his penis in her mouth).

Stressed and at her wits’ end, Koopman resigned in January 2019 and has now been on a year-long crusade to expose the toxic working environment at DigiOutbound.

“Not only am I fighting for myself and what I have been through, but I’m fighting for everyone from the past, the present and the future at this company to not go through what so many have gone through.”

Koopman has launched an online crowdfunding initiative to hire a legal team to take her case.

The company offered her financial compensation but she declined, claiming “it came with a gag order because they want to shut me up”.

In response, DigiOutbound released a statement acknowledging that “during her employ, Ms Koopman was exposed to unacceptable bullying, sexual harassment and emotional abuse by both male and female colleagues”.

The company also claims that 17 employees had been dismissed after they investigated Koopman’s claims.

DigiOutbound said: “Ms Koopman has every right to feel aggrieved by what happened to her. As her employer when the incidents took place, we had a duty of care towards her and all other female employees in our company. We acknowledge this and we have taken proactive steps to rectify it.”

She maintains that she has proof that there have been no changes to the work culture there and she will continue her legal battle to bring about change for the women employed there who are too scared to speak up.

@WeekendArgus

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Weekend Argus

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