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Needle Vinyl Tavern sees bookings cancel as it reviews sexual harassment allegations

A file photo of The Needle Tavern in Downtown Edmonton.

A popular Edmonton music venue says it is reviewing allegations of sexual harassment against one of its owners and has removed him from “any active role.”

Downtown’s Needle Vinyl Tavern says it takes the complaints made by a former employee “very seriously” and will take “immediate steps to ensure that The Needle remains a safe environment for lovers of music in the Edmonton region.”

Meanwhile, a Monday-night podcast taping and Tuesday-night workshop changed to other venues because of the allegations.

In a Facebook post which she later confirmed to Global News, Brittany Lyne Rudyck said she left her job in public relations for The Needle because she was groped by one of the owners and because the venue is considering hiring someone with a reputation for emotional abuse and sexual harassment.

“I was sexually harassed by one of the owners in March,” Rudyck said in the post. “He was blackout drunk and groped me several times after I repeatedly said no. It came to the point where I had to ask security to kick him out.

“I informed my manager of this as well as a few other staff members, who were supportive.”

Rudyck said the owner offered a “half-baked” apology the next day and tried to phone her but she did not take his calls. She said she has not heard from him or the other owners about the incident since.

Rudyck said she was also troubled by how the owners reacted to concerns raised by her and other women after they learned of a potential new hire at the venue. She said “a few other women” left previous jobs because of the person, who they say subjected them to emotional abuse and sexual harassment. She said the owners were sent emails by the women detailing their concerns.

Rudyk said she and other managers confronted the owners on Friday to ask if the person was being hired and that the owners did not answer, only saying they respect her opinion.

“No longer will I be supporting this venue in any way, shape or form. I implore you to do the same, whatever that looks like for you,” said Rudyck, who told Global News she plans to speak more about what happened later this week. “Standing up for myself and these other women is the right thing and this seems far from over.”

Global News has reached out to the Needle Vinyl Tavern for comment. In a Monday afternoon Facebook post, the venue said it has “zero tolerance for any behaviour or actions by staff or patrons that impacts the positive environment we have worked so hard to cultivate for Edmontonians.”

The Needle said it would review its policies and training with experts to ensure it maintains a “healthy, respectful environment,” and once it completes a review of the owners, take “all appropriate measures to deal with them.”

Rudyck posted a reply to The Needle’s statement to say it did not amount to “an apology.”

In the wake of the allegations, at least two events planned to take place at The Needle are now occurring elsewhere. The hosts of the podcast Taggart and Torrens (one of who is a former star on TV’s Trailer Park Boys) tweeted they were moving their planned appearance at The Needle Monday night to a venue in Old Strathcona because of the allegations.

“We are heartbroken to hear about the allegations of mistreatment of the staff at The Needle Vinyl Tavern in Edmonton,” their tweet reads. “We cannot in good conscience perform there tonight and will be relocating to @thebuckonwhyte at 10439 Whyte Ave.”

A board member with the Fruit Loop Society of Alberta confirmed to Global News it was moving an event planned at The Needle for Tuesday because of the allegations, adding the organization was “sorry to hear about the allegations and the way they were addressed.” The Fruit Loop Society event was aimed at providing free Nalaxone training (an antidote for fentanyl overdoses) for members of the LGBTQ community and community venues which host LGBTQ-related events.