Ordinarily, we think of stalking as a phenomenon happening to one person. However, when disagreements flare and the invasion of privacy is extended to a business or organization, the safety of employees and the security of the work environment must be protected from business stalkers.
Utah newspaper forced to file injunction
A newspaper in Brigham City, Utah, ended up filing for a stalking injunction after one reader’s actions got out of hand. While he had already been advised to stay away from the business and its employees, the newspaper felt an official legal injunction was necessary.
The stalker in question is Don Dunbar, a subscriber to the paper who wrote many letters to the editor. However, most of these letters were very aggressive and supported a variety of conspiracy theories. The newspaper had therefore refused to print some of them as they were. They suggested edits, but Dunbar became aggressive. While this wasn’t the first time he had visited the offices or the first such eruption, this one was particularly disruptive.
Dunbar subsequently arrived at the homes of several staff members to put more pressure on them to print his letters. The editors of the paper understandably decided that this was unacceptable, and took action to keep their employees safe, serving Dunbar with a certified letter and filing for the stalking injunction.
Keep Your Employees Safe
It is essential as a business owner that you take precautions to keep your company and your employees safe. Ruffled feathers are fine. However, employees and customers should both know that these matters should stay at work. Any time an employee is harassed at home because of the stance of their workplace, things have gone too far.
The editors of the paper above did the right thing in taking swift action, and Dunbar seems to have been a colorful enough character that there were many witnesses to his actions. However, it is not always so easy to prove a case of wrongdoing. Many stalkers are more subtle and may only target one or two employees, rather than eight as Dunbar did. In this sort of instance, it is very important that you as an employer believe your employees and take the necessary steps to protect them. Filing an injunction may have to come later in the process, when you can prove it is necessary. First, you need to gather evidence that authorities will be able to act upon.
In circumstances like this, it may be beneficial to hire a private investigator to perform surveillance on an individual, and perform background checks that might turn up evidence of similar activities in the past. The key indexes to check here are the civil and criminal indexes in the county where the subject resides or where the business is located. The civil index check would provide the case number, date of filing and the plaintiff and defendants of record. This would provide rock-solid information if the subject was involved in similar behavior with another person or company. The criminal index would provide the same type of case information and reveal if the subject’s behavior had actually escalated into criminal filing by the local law enforcement establishment. These searches can be conducted by doing a hand-search at the county courthouse. Court personnel are generally very helpful and willing to assist. If you want to save time, have a local private investigator perform a computer search which the vast majority can do from their office. The cost is generally under $50.00/index.
We have worked hundreds of these cases throughout the United States. Many corporate executives are smart and immediately hire private investigators who have interview and interrogation skills. Here is how the case would unfold. We always use two investigators when interviewing subjects. That is to protect the client and us from any lawsuits or charges that we said or did anything inappropriately be it verbally or physically. The subject is advised that we are on a two way street, civil and criminal. That means he could be sued by the company for harassment and the whole matter be taken to the local police for prosecution. The idea is to get a statement signed by the subject admitting guilt and agreeing to stay away from the company and their employees. Many think this is a difficult hill to climb. If you retain the right private investigators, this is often as simple as shooting fish in a barrel. It is not uncommon for us to get the subject to agree to anger management classes. We always include in the statement that the subject agrees to stay one mile away from the company premises and all employees.
If you feel your employees may be in danger, we can find out more about the person stalking them, why they may be targeting your company, and gather the evidence necessary to take action against them.