Should my company care that a sex offender is a construction worker at their site where kids are present?

Question:

I work in a retail store undergoing a remodel. I once worked in the same workplace as one of the construction contractor’s crew.

At that workplace, a young co-worker who looked 15 came to me for help because this guy gave her the creeps. She told me she felt he was stalking her. I told our supervisor about this and he said my co-worker was making this up because the man was a “good guy.”

Things got worse. This guy heard we’d both protested. He began texting my co-worker on and off the job and also started following me around. He’s a big guy, 6 feet 2 inches tall and scary. When I felt him right behind me, I’d stop and turn toward him, and he’d stare at me. I told him to cut out his intimidation or I’d call 911. He was later arrested and is now on the Alaska Sex Offender Registry for child pornography.

I don’t like knowing that 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 truth? Isn’t my store responsible for the actions of anyone allowed to work here?

Is there anything I can do?

Answer:

You’ve taken the right action, both in your former and current job.

Your former supervisor blew it by ignoring what you said. 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.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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