Question:

I work in a retail store undergoing a remodel in a mall next to other stores that teens and younger children frequent. I once worked in the same workplace as one of the construction contractor’s current crew.

At that workplace, an eighteen-year-old co-worker who looked fourteen talked with me about one of the other guys. I’d seen her back stiffen when he got a cup of coffee while she was doing the dishes. Then then left before finishing them.

I asked her about it the next day. She said he gave her the creeps, that the way he looked at her made her feel like a piece of meat. I asked if he’d done anything, and she said “no, but I’ve had the strangest feeling he is following me, because he always shows up when I’m at the store or a gym.”

That worried me and I asked her if she’d told the supervisor since she worked directly for him in the office. She shook her head, said she knew he and the creep were good friends and went hunting and fishing together.

I decided to speak to the supervisor and got shut down, hard. He told me, “You and she need to stop making trouble. He’s a great guy. She hasn’t seen anything but her making up stories could hurt him and this job. I’m going to tell him to watch out for the two of you.”

Things got worse after that. The guy, a big guy, six feet two inches tall and with an angry bull dog face, pushed against me in the hallway and “I hear you’ve talking about me. And she’s got a big mouth too.”

He started to text her on and off the job. She quit three days later.

He then focused on me. He eyeballed me whenever he saw me. He must have followed my truck several different days because I turned around when walking my dog and found him behind me.  following me. My dog, a golden retriever who considered everyone her new best friend, didn’t go up him. He said, “Good lucking dog. Shame if something happened to it.”

I decided to find a new job too.

He’s a big guy, 6 feet 2 inches tall and has an angry pit bull face. I called 911 once and he just laughed and peeled away after calling me a pussy. After that, when I felt him behind me, I’d stop and turn toward him, and match him stare for stare. I also told him to cut out his intimidation tactics or I’d call 911.

He was later arrested for another situation and is on our state’s Sex Offender Registry for child pornography.

I don’t like knowing he now has access to a grocery store in which kids sometimes get separated from their parents. I went to human resources. They told me that since he worked for a contractor there was nothing they could do. Is that true? Isn’t my store responsible for the actions of anyone who works here, even the contractors?

What else can I do?

Answer:

You took many of the right actions, both in your former and current job.

Police

Your former supervisor blew it by ignoring what you said and outing you both. He should have investigated or let HR know of a potential problem as both you and your co-worker had the right to a safe workplace. Since you took the right steps and didn’t get help, your co-worker could have contacted the police and also petitioned for a restraining order.

Your current HR officer is only partially right. If a problem occurs, both the man’s company and yours could be jointly sued, particularly as you’ve put your company on notice.

That doesn’t mean this man needs to be fired. As a society, we want former criminals to become gainfully employed after release from prison or jail so they can live productive lives. Further, this man may have changed.

Child pornography, however, occupies a special status, with a high recidivism rate. This man shouldn’t be in areas where he can separately access children.

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions” (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at lynnewriter10@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.

4 thoughts on “Sex Offender On-site; What Do I Need To Do?

  1. Hi Lynne,

    I once worked with an engineer (he was with a huge oil company) on several committees – not daily, but monthly. After knowing him for about 8 months, he asked me to dinner. He was a VERY quiet, intelligent, well-mannered guy. After going out together for awhile and even meeting his elderly mother one day, he said he had something to tell me. I was shocked to know that his divorce many years earlier was because he had touched his older daughter – age 12 (many times), and she finally told her mother once she thought her younger sister – age 10 – would be next.

    He said he’d lost his wife, daughters, beautiful home, savings, and friendships. I was SHOCKED to say the least. And, after hearing him plead with me to stay his friend, I walked away.

    I took early retirement the next month and moved to Alaska. He kept writing and trying to explain how he’d been in therapy for years, had never contacted his daughters, had made amends with his mother (who gave up her rights to ever see her granddaughters again), and was building up his savings again (he received a large salary). I never responded but wondered if his large company knew about him. Surely they did. He worked for them until he retired years later.

    Should I have told my bosses? We all worked together on committees, and he was a highly respected leader in our consortium. He also was very involved in our yearly conferences that drew an audience of several hundred.

    I never told anyone except my mother and my grown sons. My friends asked and asked what happened to him, and I couldn’t explain.

    Anne Cain

    1. You’ve asked a great question. You’ve described someone who was able to change life life, behaviors and trajectory. Given that, I don’t think you needed to tell his employer. People do change. The individual described in this morning’s post threatened a dog and escalated his behavior, a far different situation.

  2. This is a scary story with sensible actions taken both by the person who asked the question and actions to take posed by Lynne Curry, the workplace blog coach author. It is good to make the distinction that a sex offender doesn’t need to be fired but should be kept away from children, especially in unsupervised, out-of-the way places.

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