Months of unanswered complaints about disturbing sexual harassment by a coworker led a local man to file suit against a Texas grocery store chain last week.
Robert Salinas, a longtime Kroger employee, is suing the grocery chain for unlawful employment practices, alleging that management at the Rosenberg store looked the other way when another employee repeatedly harassed him. As so often happens, the harassment eventually turned violent.
In his lawsuit, Salinas cites the coworker's subsequent conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after the man attacked him with a knife.
Salinas started working for Kroger in 1981, and asked to be transferred to the Rosenberg location in 2011 so he could be closer to his aging mother. Shortly after he transferred, one of the Rosenberg store employees, David Castillo, began to harass Salinas.
Castillo kicked it off with some good old-fashioned verbal harassment, according to Salinas, who alleges that Castillo began asking him inappropriate questions like, "When are you gonna give me some of that white ass?" and "Do you like what you see?"
But those harassing comments quickly escalated, and Castillo started grabbing Salinas's ass and testicles, according to the lawsuit. Castillo would even threaten to rape him when they were alone together in the store in the morning.
Castillo also told Salinas that he used to rape guys like him in jail, according the lawsuit, and that he would rather be with a man than a woman.
From there, it just gets worse.
According to Salinas, when he told his managers at the store about the harassment, they didn't investigate the complaints. No actions were taken against Castillo either, according the lawsuit, and Salinas was left to deal with the increasing sexual harassment on his own.
Oh, and not only did they make him keep working alongside the guy, according to the suit, the managers went around and told people that Salinas was crying about the harassment.
Can't get any worse, right? Oh, but wait.
On April 6, 2012 -- months after the harassment began -- Castillo held Salinas in a choke hold, put a knife to his throat in the back room of the store and threatened him.
Salinas went to the Rosenberg Police Department this time, though, and they not only got Castillo to admit to the incident, but also got the Kroger management to recall Salinas being pinched on the ass, while admitting that they'd done nothing about the harassment, according to the lawsuit.
Castillo told the officers that he threatened to cut Salinas's head off during the incident, in which he wielded a Kroger-issued produce knife, and also said that management had given him the option to resign or be terminated after the incident. He chose to resign.
Castillo was later convicted of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon.
Should these allegations prove true, this might actually be one of the more legit lawsuits filed against a grocery store in recent memory. It sure makes those slip-and-fall complaints look like small potatoes, at least in the pain-and-suffering department.
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