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?
You took many of the right actions, both in your former and current job.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.