Outrage erupted on a FrontRunner train Tuesday night when a Utah Transit Authority employee confronted a group of women who had shared an on-board restroom, asking if they were “putting [tampons] into each other,” a video shows.
UTA spokesman Carl Arky said the transit agency became aware of the video Wednesday morning. The employee has been placed on paid leave while UTA’s human resources department investigates, Arky said.
The five women were headed to Tuesday’s Twilight Concert in Ogden when Camille Hoerner and her friend went to the train’s restroom together because only one of them had menstrual supplies, Hoerner said.
"Someone started shaking on the door and yelling, 'Only one at a time!'" Hoerner said. "We got out and didn't see anybody. It kind of scared us."
They returned to their group, but Hoerner’s friend still hadn’t had a chance to use the restroom. Lexi Beckstead and Alyssa Childs agreed to return to the restroom with her because she was afraid to go alone after someone had tried to open the door on her and Hoerner.
"That's part of the reason why they went to the bathroom together in the first place: We're on public transit. We've had weird situations happen before, with people making inappropriate comments," Beckstead said. "People make fun of girls for going to the bathroom together, but sometimes it’s scary, and I feel like they proved our point."
The three women had returned to their seats about five minutes later, Beckstead said, when a UTA worker approached and admonished them for using the restroom together.
"This is public transit, this isn't Pornhub," Beckstead recalled the worker saying.
"We were shocked," Beckstead said.
A nearby passenger, Christy Atkinson, said she overheard the worker make the sexual remark to a group of women in their early 20s.
"I have a 20-year-old. When I heard him talking to them like that, I stood up," Atkinson said.
Atkinson said she found the worker in another car, asked him for his full name — which she said he refused to give — and told him she was going to file a complaint with UTA.
"Three minutes later he came storming up," Atkinson said.
The confrontation that followed was captured on video by Beckstead, who also asked for the worker's full name.
"You called us porn stars," Childs can be heard saying to the worker, who identified himself only as Jeremy.
"I don't care," the worker replied.
"You should care," Childs says. "That's unprofessional."
"You shook the bathroom door," Beckstead adds.
"These women needed tampons," Childs says. "What's wrong with that?"
The worker retorts: "Why does it take all three of them 10 minutes? Were you putting them in each other?"
At that point multiple passengers are heard protesting loudly.
"What the f---!" one woman exclaims.
"'Were you putting them in each other?' Did you really just say that?" Atkinson says. "Disgusting."
"Don't say that, man, don't say that. Don't say that," a male passenger can be heard repeating.
The group continued to argue for about four minutes, Beckstead said.
At one point the worker says, “You know what, I’m not doing this. Y’all can get off at the next stop if you’ve got a problem.”
“I’ve told guys [to get out of the restroom] before,” the worker later says, eventually adding, “You have no idea what we catch people [doing] in these bathrooms.”
"Did you call them porn stars, too?" Childs asks.
"Yes," the worker replies, eliciting disbelieving laughter from the passengers.
Atkinson said she has sent complaints to UTA as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"We take it very, very, very seriously. I can't stress that enough," Arky, with UTA, said of the video and the complaints it has generated. "We are doing our due diligence as we speak."
Arky said another employee was operating the train during the confrontation. UTA cameras did not capture any audio or video of the exchanges, Arky said. He declined to discuss the employee’s history with UTA.
“I get that maybe we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom together,” Beckstead said, though she and Childs said they didn’t see any such rule posted on a sign. “He could have chosen to approach us in a way that was, ‘Hey, I noticed you guys went in there together. Next time, could you go in one at a time?’ We would have just been like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’”