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Guthrie vows to investigate harassment claims

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Guthrie artistic director Joe Haj
Guthrie artistic director Joe Haj
Euan Kerr | MPR News file

The Guthrie Theater is launching an investigation after allegations of sexual harassment by a former employee. 

The female carpenter resigned earlier this week after working on the Guthrie staff for three and a half years, a position she described as a "dream job." 

She posted what she said was her resignation letter to Facebook. In the Facebook post, the woman said a manager in the scene shops "breeds a sexist culture and continues to encourage it." She said the manager stood by while other employees made off-color jokes and "mocked and belittled" women who worked there. 

"I don't want another woman to hate coming to work for fear of what might be said to her, I don't want her to cry in the bathroom, to have to remind herself that this is the dream just stick it out you have to tolerate it," she wrote. "I don't want her to brush off the fact that the men put their hands on her, even when repeatedly asked to stop. I don't want her to be physically blocked after an assault by another man from going to HR to report it. That is my Guthrie, those are my experiences. I wanted so badly for it to change, my dream is shattered."

On Thursday, the Guthrie Theater released the following statement over the signature of Director Joseph Haj: 

"Over the last two years we've been actively working to address cultural and workplace issues to ensure a workplace where everyone is valued and respected. This work has been done throughout the organization, and specifically in our scene shop, based on concerns that were raised by employees.

"This week, executive leadership was made aware of a specific allegation of unwanted and inappropriate behavior, and that an employee was prevented from reporting that behavior to Human Resources. We take this allegation very seriously. We have moved immediately to take action, meeting with board leadership and engaging an independent party to launch a full and complete investigation."

The statement promised that Guthrie management would take "appropriate actions" and said it was determined to bring "meaningful cultural change" to the organization.