Ask Amy: Worker uncovers supervisor’s criminal past

Dear Amy: I’m a recent college graduate working in my first “adult” job.

I work very closely every day with an older co-worker who essentially oversees all of my work activities.

Recently, while trying to connect with him on LinkedIn (with no success, because he isn’t a user), I Googled his name and the state he lives in.

The first result was an article from several years ago with his mugshot, saying he had been arrested a decade ago for an alleged sexual assault on a minor.

The article didn’t give details on how the case ended (but I assume he was found not guilty, otherwise I assume he would be in jail). Still, I looked into his background a little more with free online tools and discovered that he has many other crimes on his record, including burglary and domestic assault.

Basically, I don’t know how to handle this information. I feel incredibly disturbed and uncomfortable since learning this, and I’m dreading continuing to work with him.

I’m not sure if I should bring it up with HR, or try to let it go. What should I do?

— Concerned in Colorado

Dear Concerned: It is never wise to override your own instincts if you don’t feel safe.

Many states have passed “ban the box” laws, making it illegal for an employer to ask about criminal convictions on a job application (although they can ask and should also do a background check before making an employment offer). It’s possible that your workplace has not done its due diligence — or that this person has been arrested, but never convicted, of a crime (it’s not quite clear).

Because these crimes involve violence against people and property, you should take your concerns to HR. Most likely, your HR representative wouldn’t comment to you, or reveal any aspect of your co-worker’s criminal history. But if your HR rep told you, “Yes, we are aware of all of this. We hired Mr. Smith eight years ago as part of a parole work-release program and we are very happy with his rehabilitation,” would this mollify your concerns?

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Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle


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