Email harassment

Members of management have been getting harassing/offensive/obscene emails and text messages from an anonymous person. We have done the preliminary checking and narrowed it down to the internet service provider and city of origin. We know it is a former employee who is very bitter over being discharged. I had only received one before yesterday and ignored it (although I did forward it to our IT Mgr) because frankly I don't give a rat's raincoat what these people say about me. Yesterday I received another email which attacked not only me but my husband as well. It was very vicious. He/she also sent cc's and bcc's to several of my co-workers. Now I'm mad! No, now I'm FURIOUS! I filed a formal harassment complaint to our GM. Our Anti-harassment policy states that the company will not tolerate harassment to employees from either inside our outside persons. I believe the GM has turned this over to our attorney (along with previous emails and text messages to other employees)and they will try to get the subpoena ready by the time the grand jury meets. Has anyone had this happen? How did you handle it? Once you subpoena email records how long does it take? It is taking all my will power not to reply to this lowlife bottom dweller slime sucking pervert myself, but I know that's not the way to go.



  • 8 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Yes, we did have this. It started this way and moved to the guy following employees' kids around in the mall. Notify the police. Notify your onsite security if you have them. We pulled up his former badge photo and distributed it to the guards to make sure this guy did not get access to the company property and they would know to spot him if he headed for employees. We had our attorney get a temporary restraining order against the former employee and were able to make it stick, even though he never signed the emails, like yours.

    We may be able to put up with alot ourselves, but when this moves to others, it's time to take action and always take it seriously.
  • I had a similar problem before email was invented. And before Al Gore invented the internet. On 3 occasions someone left threatening notes on my front porch at home so I would find them in the morning. One was a bomb threat to blow up my employer's facility. The other 2 were death threats including my children. I went to the police and let them do the investigating. They asked about anyone I may have fired in the previous 6 months or so and they followed up by questioning those people, all were deadends. Then a break came when I gave a name to the police. They questioned the woman, she admitted to it and they arrested her. It was only a harassment charge and she got a slap on the wrist.
  • How scary. I try very hard to terminate with dignity, regardless of how little they deserve it, but you just can't be nice to some people! We all know the dangers of our job (that HR can be the target of an ex-employee's anger) but I still hate to hear when it happens. It is ESPECIALLY scary when they make it personal. My thoughts are with you.
  • Thanks for your concern and advice. I forgot to add that he/she has an inside informant. In my email this morning they said that I looked like hell yesterday (can't say I deny that)and they reference things that happen in the office, such as who was moved to a different department, who went to lunch with whom, etc.

  • Wow. I'm not sure what the police would think is the best way to proceed, but I would be inclined to make a statement to everyone (preferably in person, but by memo if necessary) that we had been receiving harassing emails and apparantly the person was getting info from inside. When the inside person is caught, they will be immediately terminated as an accomplice. (And if someone feels they may have innocently been involved up to this point, they can fess up and tell what they know now.)
  • Unless the individual is stupid enough to be sending these from a personal account registered in their name, you will never catch them. Anon remailers are a dime a dozen. All you will likely get by serving a subpoena to the the ISP you think this is originating from is a response that it did not come from them and the IP was probably spoofed.

    You need to forget about grand juries and playing Matlock. Get the authorities involved immediately. I would also considered bringing in a private investigator. There are free-lance security specialists out there, usually retired law enforcements professionals, who can come in and conduct their own investigations. The beauty of this is that they report to you and are usually not bound by some of the legal restraints faced by the municipality's police force.

    Good luck. Practice some common sense. Be wary of your surroundings as you come and go from work. I'm not suggesting smokescreens, oil slicks and 100 MPH evasive maneuvers on the road, however, you should pay close attention to suspicious vehicles, activity and/or people.

    Be safe.

  • The part that really bothers me is the employee providing insider information. Lie detector testing comes to mind. There are cases where it is allowed. Ask an attorney.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • I would definitely send out a memo stating that someone on the inside of the organization is providing information to a former employee who is under investigation for harassing behavior. If the insider is "found out", they will be terminated and turned over to the police for prosecution, along with their "co-conspirator."
    May not be able to do a thing about it....but they don't have to know this. Sometimes just a threat will make someone stop their behavior.

    Otherwise, get advice from your attorney. A PI may be the way to go here.

    Good luck!
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