A supervisor called the Employee Relations office to request a meeting of the workplace violence team for assistance in handling a situation he's just learned about. He was counseling one of his employees about her frequent unscheduled absences, when she told him a chilling story of what she's been going through for the past year. She broke up with her boyfriend a year ago and he's been stalking her ever since. He calls her several times a week (she hangs up immediately). He shows up wherever she goes on the weekends and just stares at her from a distance. He often parks his car down the block from her home and just sits there. He's made it known he has a gun.
This agency's plan calls for the initial involvement of security, the
Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and employee relations in
cases involving stalking. The security officer, the EAP counselor,
and employee relations specialist met first with the supervisor and
then with the employee and supervisor together. At the meeting
with the employee, after learning as much of the background as
possible, they gave her some initial suggestions.
- Contact her local police and file a report. Ask them to assess her
security at home and make recommendations for improvements.
- Log all future Contacts with the stalker and clearly record the
date, time, and nature of the Contact.
- Let voice mail screen incoming phone calls.
- Contact her own phone company to report the situation.
- Give permission to let her coworkers know what was going on
(she would not agree to do this).
- Vary her routines, e.g., go to different shops, take different
routes, run errands at different times, report to work on a
The team then worked out the following plan:
- The Employee Relations specialist acted as coordinator of the
response effort. He made a written report of the situation and
kept it updated. He kept the team members, the supervisor, and the
employee apprised of what the others were doing to resolve the situation.
He also looked into the feasibility of relocating the employee to
- The Security officer immediately reported the situation to the local
police. With the employee's consent, she also called the police
where the employee lived to learn what steps they could take to
help the employee. She offered to coordinate and exchange
information with them. The security officer arranged for increased
surveillance of the building and circulated photos of the stalker to
all building guards with instructions to detain him if he showed up
at the building. She brought a tape recorder to the employee's
desk and showed her the best way to tape any future voice mail
messages from the stalker. She also Contacted the agency's phone
company to arrange for its involvement in the case.
- The Employee Assistance Program counselor provided support
and counseling for both the employee and the supervisor throughout the
time this was going on. He suggested local organizations that could
help the employee. He also tried to convince her to tell coworkers
about the situation.
- The Union arranged to sponsor a session on stalking in order
to raise the consciousness of agency employees about the
problem in general.
After a week, when the employee finally agreed to tell coworkers
what was going on, the EAP counselor and security officer jointly
held a meeting with the whole work group to discuss any fears or
concerns they had and give advice on how they could help with
In this case, the employee's coworkers were supportive and wanted to help out.
They volunteered to watch out for the stalker and to follow other security
measures recommended by the security specialist. The stalker ended up in jail
because he tried to break into the employee's home while armed with a gun. The
security officer believes that the local police were able to be more responsive
in this situation because they had been working together with agency security
on the case.
Questions for the Agency Planning Group
- Do you agree with the agency's approach in this case?
- What would you do in a similar situation if your agency doesn't have
- What would you do if coworkers were too afraid of the stalker to work
in the same office with the employee?
- What would you do if/when the stalker gets out of jail on bail
or out on probation?
- Would your Office of Inspector General have gotten involved in this case,
e. g., coordinated agency efforts with local law enforcement agencies?