Straight to the Point: What level of responsibility does an employer in the U.S. (New York State) have if an employee (full-time) alerts them to someone potentially stalking them and who might act out in violence of some sort? Is it basically a case of they protect their facilities and if someone gets in then interloper is basically trespassing and that’s it? I—and others—in the U.S. are basically “hired at will” resources and there is just so much that can be done in a case like this?
Details and Background: I was recently contacted at work by someone in my family I am willfully estranged from (for 10+ years at this point t) and someone who I have threatened with a restraining order if they contacted me ever again. They were abusive to me—and others in my childhood—and after about 30+ years of dealing with their nonsense, I had enough.
This person most likely obtained my work email address via the organizations company address. I did not work for my current employer 10+ years ago so it’s the most likely reason. I actually have no problem with this. While I use a pseudonym on sites like this, my “real world” presence is quite glib and transparent. I find that this level of honest exposure to have been effective in dealing with nonsense like this in my life.
In this case, this family member wanted to return some documents to me that they knew I would want; these are not financial documents but rather personal documents connected to deceased relatives I had good relation with.
Not wanting to have these documents get lost to the B.S. of time/family nonsense I directed this family member to mail me these documents to a P.O. box I maintain; I would rather get these personally important documents than have to deal with estate/probate B.S. messes in the future.
That said, I told my immediate supervisor about this email contact and I explained that there is a good chance this unwanted family member might want to confront me at work. I’m hoping this won’t happen, but have to be realistic.
The response I received was basically a fairly lukewarm answer along the lines of: “There’s just so much the organization can do past ensure normal access controls are in place.” Which practically boils down to I am free to contact security or local police if an actual incident happens but past that, there is not much I can expect my employer to do past the basic workplace controls.
The building I work in has basic—but lackadaisical—security on the ground floor that is easy to get past and the access to my floor/department is pass card/ID card protected but is also staffed with a receptionist who simply opens the door at will. For all intents and purposes, this access “controls” are not really strongly enforced. Thus my question regarding employer responsibility.
Postscript for Armchair Second Guessers: The reason I have not actually filed a restraining order is based on my experience of knowing that providing proof in a case like this is sadly best handled after an actual incident happens. Otherwise, attempting to get a restraining order over a shouting match is just a big legal mess with questionable outcomes/results.
So in an odd way, if the antagonist in this mess suddenly appears at my place of work this could all actually be a blessing in surprise!
And for anyone who wants to second guess the “tactical/strategic” nature of an act of contact like this, I will just say I am not stating the complete picture due to discretion and personal safety. Rest assured I know how this person behaves, have dealt with them in the past and—sadly—know how to deal with their nonsense on many different levels.