Kennedy Hardmen landed a job at WTVQ in Lexington.
She was living her dream of covering sports and she was hoping to learn a lot on her new job. But, she says the job turned into a nightmare after her boss sexually harassed her.
She took to social media to tell her story. This is what she wrote:
With all of the women coming forward about sexual harassment I felt it was important for me to speak my truth. Many of you may not know this- but I took a step back from sports reporting. Since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was Dominique Sachse.
I started working in the industry when I was 17. I was so fortunate to have mentors who guided me and protected me from the "bad guys" in the industry. When I graduated college, I took a job where I continued to have that guidance. Unfortunately, it was my job after that one where I experienced sexual harassment I did not know existed in "real life". I remember moving across the country not knowing a single person. I was completely alone and vulnerable. I packed up my life and moved for my dream. I told myself I was "paying my dues" and it would all be worth it one day.
Immediately into my new job, my boss started with his inappropriate behavior. Written in my contract stated that I could be fired without cause in the first 90 days. I felt trapped.
It started with flirty texts- I told myself it wasn't real. He was married for goodness sakes. It escalated to him calling me pet names- referring to me as babe and buttercup- things I thought was an accident- I couldn't have heard that right??- eventually the pet names and walking of the line texts turned into inappropriate photos of women asking if this was the type of clothing I wore under my work attire- when I wouldn't respond he would say I didn't have to answer because we all knew I didn't wear "panties". I was mortified. Shocked. Hurt. Trapped. This man I trusted to teach me- guide me- be my boss- was making me feel worthless and a piece of ass.
I reached out to a senior member of the news room. Told him what was going on- how uncomfortable it made me- but asked him not to tell. I didn't want to become a liability- I didn't want to believe it was real.
When the 90 days of my contract hit- I confronted my boss. The conversation backfired on me. I ended up being taken off of big events and all Kentucky Basketball games in general. How could a 2 man sports department only have one of their sports anchors working on the biggest sports days the city has all year?! I bit my tongue. My bosses behavior turned hostile- I was walking on egg shells daily. When I made a mistake on air- he told me I would "be perfect when I'm done beating the crap out of you. Good news. Every guy watching after the game still wants to bang you diamond wife"
After almost a year of this, it became too much. I wasn't eating, sleeping, I was trapped in my own personal hell not knowing what I did to deserve this. I didn't know who I was anymore.Ultimately, I brought the issue to upper management. After doing so, I felt so scared of losing my job I secretly hired a labor lawyer just in case. They agreed the behavior was wildly inappropriate yet they did nothing to fix the hostile environment. Instead, they blamed me for spelling words wrong and requested I go to a doctor to treat my dyslexia. Bottom line- my boss was still my boss. Yet the situation was awful because now I was a "tattle tale"
The story never gets better. I quit my job. Quit my career. Quit my dream because I was never going to be oppressed again. What I've learned from this is that it's never ok to have someone make sexual advancements at work. It's never ok to blame yourself. And it's never ok to disregard someone's feelings when they say they've been sexually harassed. I am terrified putting this out in the public. However, I feel it is important to HIGHLIGHT THE ISSUE. This isn't a "Hollywood" thing. This is your mother, your sister, your wife, daughter, girlfriend, aunt, cousin or friend. If one person's heart is changed by this what I went through and bit my tongue for wouldn't be for nothing. Something must change.
Hardmen does not name her boss and that is part of the problem. Was it the News Director? The Assistant News Director? An Executive Producer? We don't know? FTVLive reached out to Kennedy Hardman but she has not returned our message.
The idea that she was brave enough to step up and tell her story is awesome. Let's hope more women continue to do the same.
But, let's also hope that they start naming names. At this point, anyone that was in news management at WTVQ at the time Hardmen worked there could be thought of as the harasser.
Some innocent people could be looked at the wrong way. I really hope that people will continue to call out these pigs, but you need to name names. Otherwise, a lot of people are being painted with the same brush and that is not fair to those that acted professionally and did their job.