A sales rep at a T-Mobile store in Fort Worth, Texas has filed a gender discrimination suit against the company after a member of the HR team inappropriately questioned her about having an OnlyFans account.
Caitlyn Stevens had been working at T-Mobile for nearly seven years when a male colleague became angry with her about how she was handling a customer interaction, the complaint says. He approached her “in a physically aggressive manager,” forcing a coworker to step in and stop the man from hitting her.
Stevens reported the incident to the store manager. Rather than disciplining the male colleague who’d allegedly tried to hurt her, the manager relocated Stevens to a different location, according to the complaint. The location got less foot traffic, resulting in fewer sales for employees, Stevens says. “I did not feel like it was fair that I went to a slower location based on what had just happened,” she explains in an interview with The Verge.
When Stevens submitted a complaint to HR, a man on the team called her and began asking questions about her personal life, including “whether she had a ‘sugar daddy’ and whether she had an OnlyFans account.” Stevens was shocked. “I immediately started crying,” she tells The Verge. “I told him I did not feel comfortable and he still continued to ask the questions.”
According to Stevens, the male HR rep said “we’ve heard that you have an OnlyFans account, is that true?” Then he added, “We’ve heard that people have seen nude pictures of you.”
Stevens says the questions felt violating. “I felt sexually harassed, I felt uncomfortable,” she says. “The nature of the questions, when I’m literally reporting a physical assault, is not okay.”
Stevens’ attorney, Vincent White, a partner at White, Hilferty and Albanese, says the incident shows T-Mobile sided with Stevens’ male colleague over her. “T-Mobile chose to stand with a man who had a history of violence in the workplace over a woman who was a high performer at the company for seven years,” he said in a statement. “Caitlyn Stevens’ personal life had nothing to do with store operations, while threatening coworkers with violence hinders the productivity and well-being of the entire workplace.”
This isn’t the first time that a woman has been shamed or retaliated against for having an OnlyFans account. In April 2020, BuzzFeed News reported that a mechanic in Indiana was fired from her job after her bosses found out she was making amateur porn on OnlyFans outside of work. In December 2020, the New York Post tried to “out” an EMT who was making ends meet through OnlyFans (whatever the New York Post was trying to do here backfired — the publication was widely criticized for “doxxing someone simply for trying to earn a living” according to Rolling Stone). The incidents point to how far some companies will try to go to control the lives of their workers, while also refusing to pay people enough to allow them to maintain a single stream of income.
Stevens turned down a settlement in order to speak out about what happened. “I think she chose a much harder path here, but she realizes that this is indicative of a broader trend that many women are facing and feels strongly about changing the culture by telling her story,” says Ariella Steinhorn, founder of Lioness Strategies, a communications firm assisting in Stevens’ case.
Stevens has taken a medical leave of absence due to the stress of the situation.
In a statement emailed to The Verge, a T-Mobile spokesperson said: “We take matters like this seriously and worked with the employee to investigate her claims. We found they had no merit.”
Update June 7th, 2:30PM EST: This article was updated with a statement from T-Mobile.