Major progressive public relations firm FitzGibbon media abruptly shut down yesterday amid numerous allegations that its founder Trevor FitzGibbon sexually harassed and sexually assaulted female staffers. One woman who says she was harassed during a job interview said Friday that FitzGibbon obliquely propositioned her for sex and demanded nude photos of her, and when she declined, the job offer disappeared.
Jezebel learned yesterday from former employees of the D.C.-based firm that concerns over FitzGibbon’s behavior began when a woman told members of the team she was aggressively harassed during a job interview. Today, the Huffington Post reported that woman is Sierra Pedraja, a 26-year-old Austin-based writer and journalist, who arranged a meeting with FitzGibbon while he was in Texas to discuss possible job opportunities at the firm.
Pedraja told Jezebel today that she spent three days talking to FitzGibbon, trying to get a job at the company, but that he quickly turned inappropriate. The entire team went out to a bar on Austin’s Rainey Street, where Pedraja says FitzGibbon invited her back to his hotel.
“He asked me if I was ‘willing to have some fun while he’s in town,’” Pedraja tells Jezebel. “I laughed it off and he apologized and changed the subject.” (FitzGibbon is married and has three young children.)
A day later, though, FitzGibbon began messaging her asking for nude photos, she says. He also toggled between asking for photos—“I just wanted one, btw us,” he messaged—and promising in a phone call to singlehandedly get her a $5,000 contract with a major client.
When she declined, she tweeted today, the job opportunity (if one ever existed) quickly vanished.
In conversations with Jezebel and in her tweets, Pedraja stressed that she didn’t approach the media about FitzGibbon’s behavior, but quietly took her concerns to the company’s senior management, who took her seriously and acted quickly.
“When I complained to the higher ups, they acted immediately,” she told Jezebel.
Pedraja’s disclosure had a domino effect: this week, company employees learned of at least a half-dozen women who said they were sexually harassed, and two who said they were sexually assaulted. One of the firm’s clients told the Huffington Post that FitzGibbon lured her into a hotel room, stuck his hand down her shirt uninvited and grabbed her breast.
Another public relations professional who shared clients with FitzGibbon told Jezebel last night that his behavior had become “an open secret” among women in Washington D.C.
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Trevor FitzGibbon. Screenshot via YouTube