Houston, TX- A male employee for Kroger grocery store in the Houston-area filed a sexual harassment suit against the national chain alleging the company did nothing to stop the harassment which eventually culminated in an assault.
In his lawsuit, Robert Salinas, who has worked for the grocer for over two decades, alleges that shortly after he transferred to the Rosenberg location a male coworker began to sexually harass him, according to a report in the Houston Press.
The harassment started as unwanted comments and touching. In one incident, David Castillo asked Salinas, “When are you gonna to give me some of that white ass?” But the harassment didn’t stop with the inappropriate comments.
In addition to the comments, Castillo grabbed Salinas’ buttocks and testicles and threatened to rape him when the two men were alone in the store.
Salinas went to store management to tell them about the harassment, but they did nothing to stop it or protect him. What’s more, after he complained members of the store’s management ridiculed him for coming forward.
Salinas was forced to continue working alongside Castillo when one day things took an ugly turn. Salinas alleges in his lawsuit, that one day while the men were alone in the back of the store, Castillo threatened to kill him. Castillo alleged took his store issued knife, held Salinas in a chokehold placed the knife on his neck and threatened to decapitate him.
Salinas went to the police and Castillo was subsequently arrested. Castillo later admitted to threatening Salinas and he was formally charged. Also during police interviews management for the store admitted they ignored Salinas’ complaints.
This is the first time the grocery chain has been sued for sexual harassment. In August of this year, a 16 year-old female employee for a Kroger store in Virginia filed a suit alleging that one of the store’s baggers repeatedly made lewd comments and repeatedly solicited her for sex. She told her managers about the harassment but they did nothing.
And, in May of this year Kroger was ordered to pay nearly half a million dollars to several female employees of an Oregon store after they won their sexual harassment suit. The women alleged a customer who frequented the Fred Meyer store—a subsidiary of Kroger—repeatedly groped them and said inappropriate things. They complained and management did nothing.
Salinas’ case is an example of how unaddressed sexual harassment can turn violent and why an employer must take steps to stop sexual harassment. Not taking action or investigating allegations is not only a violation of federal law, but it can be toxic to the work environment.
Sexual harassment victims need to know someone will have their back and protect them from abuse. When they can’t rely on their employers to do the right thing then they must look to a sexual harassment attorney. With help, the harassed employee can end their harassment and seek compensation for their emotional distress.