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Not sure what can happen here.

Discussion in 'Discrimination & Sexual Harassment' started by William Burgess, Oct 13, 2020.

  1. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My girlfriend works for Lowe's. She has worked there for 7 years. They hired a man, I'd say around a year ago with a mental handicap. This man used to work at Wal-Mart and was terminated for some reason unknown to us. One day, this man walks into the break room and my girlfriend was the only one in there. She was sitting in a chair charging her phone. He proceeds to walk up from behind and grabs onto her from behind, hugging her, but not letting go. He starts to tell her that she is his favorite there, and start stroking her hair telling her how pretty her hair is. I believe this man is in his mid 50's and my girlfriend is in her late 20's. She was startled and scared actually, but didn't know what he was capable of so she kinda froze up. Another associate walked in the break room, but did not see them, and he hurried to let go of her. Well, she reported it to management, and we found out that this isn't the first time this has happened. He has a life coach that has had to talk with him about this being inappropriate behavior. He has also been found guilty of racial profiling and following customers around, specifically of African-American ethnicity, and acting like they are stealing something. From what I know my girlfriend, and one of the other associates in his department have filed reports on him, and supposedly HR and his life coach have to be contacted. There are no cameras in the break room, which also contain lockers, (not for changing of course). Supposedly they are going to just let him retire and deal with it that way. Is there any way someone can explain this to me, whether it is right or wrong, and whether or not something can be done on a legal level? I feel like there is a good bit of negligence being need here. The store manager herself even started that she was not aware of what this man was capable of. For a while both him and my girlfriend were not to be alone anywhere until this was handled bit it feels like the ball has been dropped again. Actually, it concerns me further because I will catch him standing at the exit, waiting for his ride, and when my girlfriend walks out he stares her down all the way across the parking lot. I happen to work there as well so I do my best to avoid this man for more than one reason of course. Anyways, hoping someone can point me in the right direction here. Thank you all.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If management makes the problem "go away" (by accepting his resignation), then the company has handled the problem.
     
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  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Your friend can report the matter to the proper law enforcement agency.

    Your friend might wish to seek counseling if she can't emotionally resolve the invasive touching, grabbing, and/or groping.

    Your friend might wish to start seeking new employment where she will feel safer and protected.

    If I were your friend, I'd simply avoid all people who exhibit unusual behaviors.



    Perhaps BOTH of you should seek employment as far away as possible from all people who exhibit "odd behaviors".
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    That doesn't make any sense. The only people who are "found guilty" are defendants in criminal trials, and "racial profiling" isn't a crime that one can be "found guilty of." So what exactly does this mean?

    You're not clear about when this is going to happen. If it happens more or less immediately, then the problem is solved.

    Unwanted touching is battery under section 784.03 of the Florida Statutes. If this guy remains employed, your GF can make both this person and her employer aware that, if something like this happens, she will report it to the police.

    If this guy remains employed, and if someone ends up being harmed by this guy, a negligence lawsuit could indeed be viable.
     
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  5. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I apologize. I need to choose my terminology more carefully. I meant that it was reported to management and they agreed that it was inappropriate. From what I know they never did anything about it though.




    All I was informed of was that it would be "soon," but I have no idea how long that could actually be. Could be months, maybe shorter, maybe longer.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    What direction would that be?

    If you want him fired then it's up to your GF, not you, to be more aggressive, in writing, to corporate about the assault.

    And she can report it to local authorities, too.

    Or, you can both chalk it up to an overly affectionate mentally challenged person and get over it.
     
  7. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    So you want your girlfriend to file a lawsuit in hopes of hitting the big time money award... Isn't that what you're asking.... Listen money bags... not every one is a victim..... This guy didn't harm her. He just gave her a hug. Be thankful he is trying to have some type of life. Maybe invite him over for dinner.
     
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  8. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    "The store manager herself even started that she was not aware of what this man was capable of..."

    I'd like to be a little more sympathetic to our poster and his girlfriend as this may not be a concern about compensation but comfort at the workplace, which is completely understandable.

    I sympathize with the plight of your girlfriend having to work with this man. As others have mentioned, he may have some type of mental handicap. The man has been reported and probably placed on notice. Fortunately your girlfriend wasn't harmed and it didn't seem like he was trying to harm her as he had only touched her hair. Now that is very little comfort for her and I can appreciate that a woman might feel more threatened than a man, even by an act such as this. I'm not sure it rises to a level where the company must take action to terminate the employee or consistitute negligence since - as you've highlighted above - the company and the store manager have been put on notice of an issue which the manager was unaware.

    My suggestion is to try to manage the situation . Your girlfriend would seem to have good reason to expect action if another incident arises near what happened which would understandably give her serious problems with comfort on the job. Hopefully he is assigned to a different area of the store. I don't think that waiting for his ride and seeing your girlfriend, perhaps staring a bit, rises to a level of seriousness which you can expect action to be taken. Good luck.
     
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  9. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Actually, that's not what I'm asking at all. Fact of the matter is this, if you want to be technical. My girlfriend wasn't provoking this type of behavior at all. She was sitting there charging her phone on break. It is known that he isn't all there. I have nothing against the guy, and in fact am somewhat sympathetic for him because no one truly knows what is going on in his mind. On top of that, my girlfriend also gave him the benefit of the doubt due to his handicap although she was extremely uncomfortable because he wouldn't let go. He held on for minutes doing this. I would hardly say it's about money when the one you love comes home and tries to delicately handle an explanation of this and then starts to cry because there was really nothing she felt she could do. She didn't know how he would react if she tried to get him off of her. You should know that people are unpredictable, even without a handicap, or it might just not be as noticable. She was more upset that not only did this happen, but that it wasn't the first time, and he has been told that this is inappropriate behavior, and he did it again regardless. So yeah, I would say she is most definitely a victim here. I really don't care about financial compensation, if you could even call it that. What I do expect however, is that the situation be dealt with so that it can't or doesn't happen again on Lowe's watch. That is their job as an employer to provide a safe workplace and to handle the situations with the appropriate action needed. I don't like to be hypothetical but let's say if this guy's handicap has unknown aspects to it, that haven't presented themselves due to there not being a certain trigger, that this happens again but it does get sexual or even violent. Would that be enough for you to consider someone a victim? Should the situation be mishandled and it allowed to even have the possibility of happening again? Of course not. I would be more than happy if they just filed the report and got rid of the guy, filing a report of their own. If this were to happen again, then yes. I believe a little fire under Lowe's rear end, and let's be real here, corporations pay a little more attention when money is involved, would be absolutely considerable. The fact they would put anyone in danger is unacceptable, and not everyone has the ability to simply choose where they work.
     
  10. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I agree with most you have said here and I appreciate you mature and accurate responses. I wouldn't think waiting for a ride and staring at someone would be reason for action alone neither, however, with what has happened I see it as a red flag and I hope that he hasn't developed some obsession that compels his actions to be further provoked. In a sense, and this may sound harsh, this would be like comparing some regular individual staring at a child, versus a known pedophile staring at a child. One looks, for the most part innocent, the other is questionable. Like you said, nothing to take action against, but I'm not one to ignore potential red flags neither.
     
  11. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Something that Is like to add in general is this. I'm not basing this off "what I do or don't want to hear", but some of these replies have been disappointing to say the least. At some point this forum starts to feel more like a brush off of the poster, or just something that people scoff at, or take lightly. At least it seems that way. For those that have made their remarks in that manner, if at all, I'd say this. If you do in fact have loved ones, I would hate to have to see how you react to this, or maybe you would react in a similar, or even worse way than I did. All I am doing is searching for answers pertaining to the law, and by that I meant, what can be done pertaining him, and what can be done pertaining Lowe's both now, and if another incident were to occur. Also, what could be done if they chose to just overlook it and disregard their own ability to do something regardless of what may or may not happen. That is really all I have to say about this matter though. I have my answers and I appreciate those that actually did take the time to help and not belittle another or their situation. Thank you.
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Our laws aren't capable of protecting us all the time.

    The courts often can do nothing other than order someone to stay away from another person.

    Sometimes people disobey orders of protection.
    In most of these criminal cases, innocent people get hurt, sometimes killed.

    Internet legal discussion websites can do nothing to assist with complex legal matters, but offer encouragement, or suggest that a person contact the police or hire a lawyer.

    The law isn't prospective.
    The law is reactive.
    For example, John is paralyzed by a drunk driver who is uninsured, unemployed, and unlicensed.

    John might sue the drunk, but John probably will never collect a dime from the drunk.

    Sadly, many victims live a life of pain, never receiving proper redress.

    The world, as are it's inhabitants is a very inequitable place.

    Sorry, our words won't pay your bills or cure your ills.

    Words are all we've got, mate.
     
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  13. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I am aware and agree with you as well. The courts can only do their part and sadly a criminal is not going to obey the law at their convenience a majority of the time. I try to look at it though that you can better attempt to do something if you know what it is that can actually be done. For that, I do appreciate this forum and the people here. I don't mean to sound cranky with my previous posts neither. Sometimes I do feel as if people take it lightly but I suppose that depends on the feel from any particular situation and the person's feelings at the time.

    I know there are cases out there far worse than this, and it's sad that it is that way. I hope everyone wronged gets justice, but I know that doesn't play out in an imperfect world, with an imperfect justice system.

    Regardless, I want to do my part to protect my family, and if there is anything I can do to make my girlfriends life easier, or less worrysome, then I need, and intend, to do just that. I have my feeling on the matter of course, but this is more about hers.

    Her and I have decided to leave it as it is for the time being. Precautions are in place, and the reports have been filed with management. If what I hear is true and the man retires, then it's better than nothing because at least the problem is resolved in that way. If it doesn't get resolved and it happens again, or something worse, then my girlfriend has decided to press charges against the man, and pursue legal action with Lowe's. I think all of that is fair, but her and I would technically rather just have this handled upfront so that nothing else occurs, or someone else doesn't have to be "victimized" if anyone cares to call it that, or not. Thank you.
     
  14. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    i am thankful for those wonderful people that work daily with these folks. My daughter does it everyday without ever complaining. Her heart is full of love for sure. She has been bitten, kicked, punched, head butted, hugged, spit on etc...... Yet she loves what she does for sure. I pray that this poster gf ever has to face a challenged child in her life.
     
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  15. cynthiag

    cynthiag Active Member

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    I think those who are trying to minimize this by saying "he just gave her a hug" are being rather naïve. And also the comment about praying that she "ever" (I assume you meant never) has to face a challenged child is, I think, rather unfair to the young woman. Even if a man has a childlike mind, dealing with a full-grown man with special needs can be a lot different than dealing with a child with special needs.

    I am coming from a point of view of having a close relative with a son who is mentally challenged because of a brain injury as a very small child. When her son was a young man they started a group home for other young men with special needs, whether brain injuries or congenital issues such as Down Syndrome.

    She told me about issues that arose with some of these young men. Yes, they were child-like mentally and in that respect it was like dealing with children, but physically they often didn't realize their own strength, and if one of them got angry or upset and hit someone, it was far more potentially damaging to be hit by a 175-pound man than a 50-pound child. Often they will not necessarily know or understand their own strength.

    Also, even though they were childlike mentally, they generally still had a man's sexual urges, which they did not always fully understand. One of the young men sexually assaulted a woman on an outing and had to be removed from the group home.

    The OP said that the "hug" was prolonged and that the man also stroked the girlfriend's hair and told her how pretty it was and that she was his favorite. Yet when another worker came into the room, he let go of her, so by that I would assume that he understood on some level that it was inappropriate behavior.

    If I were the employer I would definitely be taking steps to make sure that such situations don't occur in the future as long as the man is working there, with OP's girlfriend or anyone else.

    Whatever you think about the OP's girlfriend's motivation for being concerned about it, I think women have a right not to feel uncomfortable and have a right to ask their employer to protect them from inappropriate situations in the workplace, regardless of who it is. If this man is able to hold a job, then he should be able to be held to some sort of standard of appropriate behavior.
     
  16. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I agree, but would add that ALL genders have the right to be protected while on the employer's premises, or doing the employer's work.

    Men and women dislike unwanted touching.

    I know because I was "Covid-19" distanced, long before Covid-19 arrived.

    I'm a true germophobe, and dislike unwanted touching.

    I rarely shook hands with anyone unrelated to me.

    I go out of my way to avoid brushing against strangers.

    I agree, that all unwanted touching (peeping, staring, leering, and looking in some cases) should be investigated, and all employees should be protected in the workplace.
     
  17. cynthiag

    cynthiag Active Member

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    Oh, absolutely agreed but I focused on women because that was the case presented by the OP. In my line of work I train for all types harassment and it's always emphasized that it applies to everyone.

    I'm not a germophobe but I generally dislike unwanted touching as well. Suffice it to say, I am not a "hugger", with the exception of my husband and my grandkids. And now I'm careful even with the grandkids, since they are back in school and kids tend to be such germ bombs!

    Social distancing is actually quite welcome to me because of this fact. I'm a social introvert anyway so distancing and avoiding large gatherings are second nature to me and now it's kind of great because it's not considered "standoffish", it's just good sense to keep one's distance and avoid gatherings.
     
  18. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    100% likewise here!


    Goodness gracious, during my high school, college, medical school, and law school days; Greta Garbo's mantra was mine:

    Quoted in John Bainbridge, Garbo (1955); as the Russian ballerina Grusinskaya in Grand Hotel (1932), Garbo had said "I want to be alone." These words had become associated with Garbo herself in the public imagination.

    My spouse excepted.

    As I say all the time, "I was socially distant, before social distancing was 'cool'".

    I've carried antiseptic and alcohol (91%) wipes all of my adult life.
    I always carry a container of "bleach wipes" to disinfect rental cars, hotel rooms, and my airplane seating area.

    I hate this virus, but I enjoy laughing inside as others suddenly mimic my eccentricities.
     
  19. William Burgess

    William Burgess Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm sorry that I may have missed what you meant here, but I'd like to know what you meant by you praying the poster's girlfriend, I'm assuming you meant never, has to face a challenged child in her life. Please feel free to elaborate.
     

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