ask the readers: should I talk to my employee about her sex offender boyfriend?

Per what may become a Thursday tradition, I’m throwing this letter out to readers to weigh in on:

I own a small insurance office with two female employees. One employee (with me less than a year) was picked up after work by her new boyfriend. When he came in, he gave me several looks that made me very uncomfortable. He immediately set off alarms. A week or so later, I was thinking of the impression he gave me and Googled his name. He came up as a repeat sex offender. He had charges of pedophilia and later stalking/sexting of a neighbor. In the court report, he stated he is a sex addict. He has failed to complete treatment twice and has spent time in prison for these activities.

My question is multi-faceted. First, do I make my employee aware of what I found? I am unsure if she knows or if sharing this information could be construed in a negative way. On the other hand, if she should want to do any work from home, I believe this would be a very bad situation if the boyfriend was able to get his hands on any customer or potential customer information. Even if I should ban her from doing any work at home, what is to say she won’t? I just found out last night (from another employee) that she took home some marketing material to work on and she had her boyfriend help her with it. The material had name and address only, but now I am concerned he may become “interested” in someone and decide to introduce himself.

What about company outings? I take employees and customers out a several times a year. Spouses and significant others are usually invited as well. I am hesitant to expose employees or customers to a convicted sex offender … especially one who continues to offend and has been unsuccessful in treatment. I want to discuss this with my employee, but want to be careful in drawing the line between personal and professional actions.

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 818 comments… read them below }

  1. IL Jim P*

    I think it’s only fair to tell her what you found out since it’s going to affect your working relationship. I also think it’s fair to put restraints on his involvement in your events and with client facing material. Lay out what you expect and go from there.

    1. JokeyJules*

      I agree
      Since it is now going to affect the working relationship, you should let her know. I mean, it’s not like you can just impose different expectations on someone else without restrictions.
      I would come from a place of concern for her well being (i’m assuming you’re concerned a bit for her well being) but also firmly from a place of managing your workplace and the security of other employees, customers, and clients.

      1. Hey Nonnie*

        I would collect a list of domestic abuse resources first, and offer them when you talk to her. You can’t force her to take them, or tell her how to run her personal life, but you can offer them, and if she refuses, tell her you’ll keep them handy in case she changes her mind. And if she does want to leave him, she’ll need expert help to do so safely.

        That said, drawing a bright boundary around the safety of your office, staff, customers, and anyone else who might visit or be associated with your business is a perfectly reasonable boundary to make. And as much as it may be tempting to try to “save” her, even against her will: firstly, that’s not a thing you can do, practically speaking, and secondly, your business and its people are the priority, since none of you consented to having this dude around. Make it clear that the boyfriend is not to have access to business materials for any reason, and that he’s not to come to the office or office events; and make it clear that she risks her job by ignoring those rules. I hope it won’t come to that, but you need to be prepared to follow through if it does.

        1. Batshua*

          I concur. I also suggest asking something really vague like “Are you aware of your boyfriend’s background/past” as a starter to the conversation. You certainly don’t want to bust out with “by the way, your boyfriend is a repeat sex offender”.

          She may know. She may not know. She may know some things but not everything. She may be totally safe at home now, or she may be in denial.

          Don’t assume she’s aware and/or willing to admit that she may be in an abusive relationship. Tread lightly.

        2. Kimberly*

          This covers most of what I would say. I would have the actual records available to show her.

          I had a neighbor that was on the registry, but he and his wife got into everyone’s good graces by claiming it was a Romeo and Juliet tale of whoa. They claimed she was a few months short of 17 and he was just over 18. Her Dad found out they were having sex and called the cops. The thing was I ran my address through the state system and found out he was 25 and the victim was under 10.

          If she has kids – that is a different situation. I would call both CPS and the non-emergency number and report the kids as possible endangered. I am required to do that because I’m a mandated reporter. I ended up calling the cops on the neighbor because I found out what they had told the neighbors and saw him with a yard full of kids over a school holiday. The cops took the kids home and they were all interviewed by experts and the neighbor was taken off in handcuffs, and I’ve never seen him again.

          Word of warning. When running your address – make sure you can match offenders listed with the actual person living there before spreading the word or taking some action. After that neighbor was arrested the next 3 or 4 tenants had all sorts of problems with new neighbors and the cops. The address was still on the registry with his picture 5 years after he was arrested. The cops nearly arrested one family for handing out Halloween Candy. Last Haloween a lady on Next Door took it upon her self to publish a list of addresses of sex offenders – and that house was on the list more than 10 years after the man was arrested.

          1. Anonymoose*

            Jesus that is a terrible story all the way around. But thank you for reporting him, even if the registry folks never got around to updating the database (budget cuts are a b*tch?).

          2. Erin*

            the sex offender sites are extremely out of date. There is a guy on the registry about a mile from my house on it and he died 3 years ago.

            1. momeye*

              Our deputy said it’s the uncaught and plead down offenders you don’t know about…so always be aware.

          3. Concerned Employer*

            There are no children involved in this situation, thank goodness. None of my employees are of the age where they have small children.

            This is not based on running an address. This is actual court documents and he is positively identified.

          4. Anne*

            I don’t know if that was accidental or intentional, but I’m stealing “tale of whoa!”

            (It’s usually tale of woe, but in this case, whoa is so…much…better.)

        3. Concerned Employer*

          There is plenty of material in the office concerning domestic abuse. Our company supports the local shelter and I have had this employee use their resources within the last year for a different situation. As an aside, there are no children involved.

          I am concerned as an employer. You cannot use certain information to deny employment. I cannot hire this man based on his history, but can I legally ban him from office functions? Can I ban him from showing up at the office? What I would like to do and what I am “legally” allowed to do may be two different things. This is what is causing my concern.

    2. SpaceNovice*

      He’s continuing to be an awful person; it’d be different if he had grown beyond his past. You have no reason to protect him in this case. You have reason to protect both your employee and company.

      IANAL, but what you are thinking of sounds pretty reasonable, and I hope someone else with that knowledge replies to this.

    3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      If any of the company events are things where people bring their kids I think you’d also have to bring it up and ask her not to bring him

    4. Kess*

      I agree, I think it’s fair to say to her that you have found out this information about her boyfriend and that, since the safety of your employees has to be your top priority, this means he is not welcome at the office or at company events. It might be worth adding that your concern includes her safety and that you are there if she ever needs help (depending on how you think she might react/is reacting to what you’re saying).

      I would also say that you learned she took home and showed him materials with client information and that such information should not be shared with anyone who is not a company employee, regardless.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Yes, absolutely. My husband has expereince with this, unfortunately.
        1. Do NOT allow this man access to people’s kids. Incredibly, the owner of the company where my husband works wanted to have a Halloween party with the kids Trick or Treating around the office with pedophiles passing out candy. Could not understand why my husband said he would not bring our kids and would tell everyone in the office not to do the same.
        2. Do NOT allow this man access to anyone’s file.
        3. Do NOT let other employees find out about this guy. Your employee will be a pariah, and it will start all kinds of drama.
        4. Do NOT let your clients / customers find out that this man is anywhere near your business. It is a kiss of death.
        5. I suppose this is harsh, but given all the possibilities of things that could go wrong (and I have seen it all happen, from the ID theft to the customers never wanting anything to do with the company ever again), I would consider replacing her if she doesn’t immediately cut him out of her life. It’s not worth the risk and if she has the bad judgment to stay with him, she cannot be trusted. I know that may be an unpopular opinion, but that’s where I’d be with it.

        1. Sarah*

          You would really take the chance and not let your other employees know? Everyone I work with has been to dinner at my house at least 3x’s a year with my kids and usually theirs, I would never forgive or forget the betrayal from my boss or the other employee for bringing a pedofile to my home around my kids and I would never do that to another parent.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            That’s fair. I was thinking of when fistfights broke out and people were arrested over the pedophile stuff but even that is preferable to anyting happening to a child. I change my answer. Given that, customers WILL find out and the company will sustain damage. I think there’s only one way out of this and it has to be that the employee cuts him out or you cut the employee out.

          2. GreyjoyGardens*

            Exactly! I think that the OP will be in deep, deep doo-doo if parents find out that a sex offender has been around their kids. Lost business, bad publicity, you name it. I’d be angry, too, if it were my kids. The employee and her boyfriend (if she stays with him) are not worth it.

        2. Dd*

          I know this is heartless. But I would also fire her. You Will be protecting anyone who might be envolved. Invent some reason for it

            1. Clorinda*

              Well, if she keeps taking work home and sharing proprietary/client contact info with him after being warned, they could fire her for that. In fact, they’d have to, since now they are on notice that this happens and might well be liable, in the court of public opinion if not in law, should something happen.

            2. Hills to Die on*

              She’s potentially allowing a pedphile and thief access to personal information and children, and potentially causing harm to the company reputation. The opportunity for disaster is huge.

              1. Jesca*

                I think they key here is that this person’a behavior is serial. Would you like a known serial murderer around? Would you like an active serial arsonist around? Would you like anyone who has serial behaviors that violently affect other people? The answer is no. Being a pedophile is being an active serial rapist. Being an active serial anything is bad news for a community because it is about control through serious harm, and while yes a certain subset of a certain population will have serial tendencies, it is ok the recognize the fear and danger of said person. I would absolutely let the employee know I came across this. (I probably woulnd’t tell her I actively looked, but maybe say something like I remembered his name from somewhere/it came up somewhere type thing.) But oh so much I would let her effing know and let her know what that means moving forward.

                I do not know about telling others. I may give her a heads up to keep this guy away completely or I will let everyone know. I mean this one is hard because it breeches way past any normal “keep your home life to yourself” type thing, because a) he is a violent predator, and b) she is bringing him into to situation with unsuspecting people (if she knows).

            3. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

              She may not have actively done something wrong, but there is a lot of poor judgement being exercised here. It’s worth firing this employee to protect the business, customer safety, and the safety of the other employee.

              1. GreenDoor*

                Hold on….it’s not “poor judgment” if the employee honestly doesn’t know the guy has a record. The LW describes him as “her new boyfriend.” It’ s a bit of a leap to say she has poor judgment and (as another commenter said ) should be fired.

                The LW should first suss out whether the employee is even aware and then decide how to proceed based on her reaction. For all we know, she doesn’t know and would drop him like a hot potato the second she found out.

                1. Kate*

                  I would argue that it is poor judgement to not know who you are dating. The majority of people have smart phones, facebook, twitter, and instagram accounts so the idea that she never had a clue about her boyfriend being in prison, a sex offender/pedofile and a stalker is bad judgement and maybe a sign that you are very bad at picking out boyfriends.

                2. JuliaGuglia*

                  Replying to this because I can’t reply to Kate.

                  I’ve never once googled a significant other. Granted I have also never dated anyone sketchy (that I know of…) but I do think it’s a bit unfair to jump to firing her if she genuinely isn’t aware. Good people get into bad relationships all the time.

                  If I were in OP’s position, I would be upfront, saying something like “I googled your new boyfriend. Are you aware of his past?” and at least let the employee answer that before jumping to any conclusions about her own character.

                3. jo*

                  @Kate: There have been times I’ve Googled new/prospective partners, especially in cases where I didn’t know them at all before I started dating them. But in cases where I already knew the person from another context, like through my social or professional circle, I took the shared friends/acquaintances as sufficient character reference and did not typically Google them.

                  While it’s smart to look into the people you date, especially if they’re strangers, not Googling them is not by itself an indication of having overall bad judgment.

              2. Overreacting.*

                She may not even know of his history. Firing her outright is a bit of an overstep at this point.

                1. Chocolate Teapot*

                  I remember once reading a story in a magazine about a woman who met someone who seemed very nice and they got engaged, then it turned out he had a conviction for serial sex offences. She had no idea until he offended again and the police came round. (It was a long time ago that I read it, but the weekly “Football Practice” was in fact his meeting with the parole officer)

                1. CustServGirl*

                  Ignore this- I didn’t refresh before commenting and now it’s a random agreement is a long thread. Sorry.

              1. GreenDoor*

                Plenty of people bounce work problems off their significant other. Just asking him for help/ideas/thoughts doesn’t constitute something wrong.

                1. MCMonkeyBean*

                  If she let him look over documents that had people’s names and addresses on them that is pretty bad. I literally jusy finished my company’s “privacy training” and that was specifically called out.

                  I am unsure about the question over telling her what she found because I’d feel pretty weird if my boss googled my significant other. But if her small insurance company doesn’t have privacy policies in place then she needs to implement some stat. Her employee should not be allowed to take confidential information home and share it with others, regardless of who her boyfriend is.

                2. Mad Baggins*

                  Precisely, GreenDoor. There’s a difference between “my coworker interrupts me when I talk, what do you think I should do [S.O.]?” and “how should we handle this case? here, take a look at my clients’ names and addresses.”

                3. Optimistic Prime*

                  @MCMonkeyBean and Mad Baggins: The OP never explicitly says, and has no evidence of the suggestion, that the employee let the boyfriend see the marketing materials or anything else with names and addresses. I have asked my husband for help or bounced ideas off of him for work problems without showing him any confidential information; lots of people do. While the OP’s concerns are legitimate, they’re also jumping to a lot of conclusions in their post and then people are taking those and running even further.

                4. Mad Baggins*

                  “I just found out last night (from another employee) that she took home some marketing material to work on and she had her boyfriend help her with it. The material had name and address only”
                  Are you saying that OP needs to confirm directly with the employee that she did in fact take work home that had names and addresses, and that she did show it to her boyfriend? That’s fair, but I think hearing it from another (presumably trustworthy) employee means the concern is legitimate. That’s great that you are able to consult your husband on work matters without violating privacy policies, but it looks like the employee in question cannot.

            4. RUKiddingMe*

              In the US lacking a contract (rare) “at will” works both ways and in all but a couple of states there need be no specific reason.

              I’ seconding the other commenters here: OP let her go. This is just too much of a potentially dangerous situation.

              1. M*

                And this level of jumping to conclusions (not just you, but many commenters in this thread) is why it is a known thing that victims of domestic violence stay in relationships that can and do get them killed because if they call the police they’ll get arrested because many places have laws saying that both parties should get arrested. Or they get fired and then are really stuck without an income, because companies don’t want to have anything to do with it. It’s not “poor judgement” to not google your partner. For heavens sake. At least find out if this woman even *knows* what her boyfriend has done.

                1. Lily*


                  I’m incredibly uncomfortable with the “burn the witch! she’s in league with the devil!” comments here. Are we ever going to stop blaming women for the actions of men? She might not know. He might be a manipulative ____ who has her convinced that he’s the victim. She might be stuck in an abusive relationship. Good lord.

                  Also, I just (for the first time) tried to Google my husband. His name is so common that I can’t find him ANYwhere through Googling. Since people are typically not in the habit of hiring private investigators to run background checks on every new partner, I think it might be helpful to lay off the “its a rule of life that it is irresponsible to not know your partner’s entire history” talk.

                2. Lily*

                  Which reminds me—you need to be 100% certain that you have the right “Derek Wilson” before you do anything. It’s way too easy to think you have the right guy and later find out that those crimes were committed by his cousin, Derek J Wilson, or whatever. You need to be really sure with no margin for error before you accuse people of being sex criminals and pedophiles.

                3. Optimistic Prime*

                  This, 100%! I am truly astonished at the reaction here to the employee, who hasn’t done anything wrong, because she’s simply associated with someone who committed crimes. The OP says this is a new relationship and the employee may not even know what her new boyfriend has done in the past.

          1. Cautionary tail*

            A friend owns a small specialty retail business. She employed four people. One of the women had an unsavory husband/boyfriend(?) who made the coworkers uncomfortable. He began to hang out in the parking lot harassing customers, began to hang out in the store so the employees quit. When my friend spoke to this woman she became defensive. Ultimately my friend fired her, but by then it was too late. My friend now has no employees and is running a one-person operation. The reason she isn’t hiring more people is because the guy drove most of the customers away.

          2. SierraSkiing*

            I think that’s especially hasty if you don’t know how much she knows. Maybe he’s been putting on the charm for her, and she hasn’t thought to google him? Plenty of people don’t google their new partner’s pasts. And if he does start to turn abusive, her situation will be even worse if she’s already lost her job.

          3. LouiseM*

            Wow, that really is heartless. Some of these comments are horrible and so completely lacking nuance or compassion.

            1. Shop Girl*

              I agree.
              If she is in DV situation telling her to leave or lose her job might be putting her in a dangerous situation. It could be dangerous for her to leave at that time and not having a job might make it impossible to leave in the future.

              1. LouiseM*

                Exactly, it could be dangerous to her, just for the sake of satisfying the OP’s bloodlust. I’m horrified at these responses that so completely lack perspective. Most people here would probably pay lip service to reentry programs for ex-felons but see no contradiction with advocating that this woman who is only *associated* with the offender be fired. We are in a den of vipers!

                1. ehhh*

                  If you want to put your children near pedophiles, thats your choice.

                  if I knew there was a pedophile near an association, I would completely remove myself from it, and let everyone possible know about the situation.

                  protecting children from pedophiles is not bloodlust

                2. M*

                  Nobody is saying to have the boyfriend around kids! Everybody is advocating that he not be allowed at the business. All LouiseM is saying is to not fire this woman, who might not even know of her boyfriend’s past.

              2. Avatre*

                I was *just* coming in here to say the exact same thing.

                Now, if once she knows his past she behaves in ways that jeopardize sensitive company data or give him openings to hurt someone via her connection to this workplace—that could be a problem, and I think it would be reasonable for the employer to say (*after* making sure she’s filled in on the situation) that unfortunately there will be some extra rules for her to follow to protect the rest of the workers/workers’ families/clients from this guy. (And I second the suggestion above about having some domestic violence resources handy.)

                But pre-emptively preparing to fire her? Sheesh. That could push her directly into a known predator’s hands. Talk about throwing your employee under the bus!

              3. ehhh*

                So, you put children at risk of the same thing? Why is a an adults safety more important than multiple children’s safety?

                1. M*

                  Everybody here is saying to keep him away from kids. They’re also saying don’t fire a woman who might not even know what he has done.

                2. Optimistic Prime*

                  How is firing this employee (without even telling her why or finding out of she knows about her boyfriend’s past) keeping the boyfriend away from kids?

          4. snuck*

            One of the biggest issues for people in abusive/destructive relationships is that their abuser can risk their employment… please don’t fire someone because their boyfriend is a crim, please don’t take their income and independence away from them.

            Set reasonable work boundaries with them (like no taking data home, not having their convicted felonious boyfriends at work – and check all your staff for this, not just the ‘guy who creeped me out with a look’ so you aren’t being biased, most pedophiles do not ‘look like pedophiles’)…

            And then if the partner encroaches on the boundaries… manage that. There’s been some FABULOUS conversations on here over the years on how to protect employees from abusive stalkers/exes/partners… lots of tactics… hunt some of those posts up (search Domestic Abuse and Stalker) and put into place some of those strategies at your office now… not just when there’s a problem, but offer them generally before there is one.

      2. Concernec Employer*

        She took home marketing materials that were sent out to “potential” customers (name and address only). It is totally against the rules to share customer information. This will be reiterated when I speak to her.

    5. Michaela Westen*

      The only thing is, can the employee be trusted not to take work home, and to keep the boyfriend away from the workplace and colleagues?

      1. Alli525*

        I suppose that would be something that coworker’s manager/boss should speak to her about… although I’m not really sure what the boyfriend would take from a list that only includes names and addresses – that’d be like flipping through the phone book and picking someone. (I guess maybe if he met them at a company picnic and THEN looked them up.)

        1. Tuxedo Cat*

          If the info has ages of people, the boyfriend could call under false pretenses. He could also just take like the marketing materials and pretend to be working for the OP and contact people. Depending on how small the town is and the exact nature of the business, the boyfriend could already be interested in stalking someone and use the name/address info to find out.

          Those are just the scenarios off the top of my head.

          1. Alli525*

            OP says the list he’s already seen only included names and addresses, but I didn’t consider that they might all live in a small town, so good point there.

          2. Classic Rando*

            Depending on the kind of insurance OP’s company sells, a list of client names and addresses may indicate a lot more about those people than you could glean from a phone book. He probably has a general idea of what kind of people are their clients, and now he’s seen a list of their specific names and addresses.

        2. Hey Nonnie*

          With a name and an address he could show up on someone’s doorstep and terrorize them. He’s already been charged with stalking, so we know that’s a thing he’s capable of doing.

          And presuming he has a preferred gender for his targets, the vast majority of names make the gender of the person obvious.

          That said, names and addresses in the wrong hands could also turn into a target list for casing and burglary, so it’s best practice to keep that stuff confidential in any case.

        3. Kyubey*

          Even if the info doesn’t have ages listed, a name and address makes it incredibly easy to find other information about the people who live there with a quick internet search. Its definitely dangerous

    6. Another Person*

      Going forward you probably will want to put in a policy with restrictions on what any employee can take home to work on. Name and address information is much safer in the office, where you can control who sees what, than out of it. I don’t think you want to get involved with worrying who comes in and out of all of your employees’ houses. Just have them all keep information like this at work.

      I would ban the guy from company events and tell her exactly why, but make sure you have the right guy first and this isn’t a big mix up.

      I think drawing a clear dividing line to separate your company and its information from her boyfriend’s involvement will alleviate your business concerns.

      1. oviraptor*

        THIS! Make sure you have the right guy. I have a friend with a common first and last name arrested and jailed because the deputy pulled up someone with the same first and last name’s record. It was unbelievable how long it took to sort that out.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Yep. I watched “60 days inside” where civilians go to jail in the states on the pretext of being criminals, to try and find info for the governor. They’re given aliases. Even so, at one point one of them was called to a court hearing. He had to play along but obviously he didn’t *have* an impending court

          case. He was bricking it! At the very last minute it turned out they should have called another James Smith (or whatever).

          I’ve also worked somewhere where, by chance, two of the lasses in HR had the same name. I was always forgetting which was first.last@company and which was first.last1@company. None of these examples were particularly common.

          OP, if you’ve seen a police mugshot online and you know it’s them, fair enough – but do be careful!

        2. Aqua409*

          I’m most states that I have come across, if a person has been in prison; you can look up their mugshot and the charges. I, unfortunately, have a family member that is a repeat offender and have frequently have seen their prison information.

        3. JennyAnn*

          Agreed. My parents had a friend who, I kid you not, shared name, birthday, and general physical description with someone who was on either a state or federal Most Wanted List for violent crimes. Even before 9/11, when he traveled he had to arrange for a US Marshall to meet him at the airport to assist in getting through security. Guess how he found out this was an issue?

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        If a policy that disallows working from home (or bringing certain materials home) serves the business, then, sure, create a new policy (although I’d argue that the policy should be “don’t share materials from the business with non-employees,” not “don’t bring materials home”).

        Otherwise, you don’t need to make a policy to deal with this one discrete issue.

        1. CLillies*

          @Victoria Nonprofit My only thought on this would be “Why NOT create a policy?” (whatever you decide the policy to be, though I agree that ‘don’t take materials home’ might be a touch too far)

          This situation could apply to any future employee she may have (if not in a slightly different context). Additionally, if the information is truly sensitive then the policy should apply to *everyone*. A convicted pedophile isn’t the only person who could do damage with personal information. Anyone’s S.O. could intentionally or unintentionally come across the “wrong” information and cause harm either themselves or by accidentally sharing it with a third party.

    7. Lisa*

      I think a good way to go about it would be to try to see through some tactful questioning, how much she knows about her boyfriend’s background before diving in about what has been found.

  2. Roscoe*

    This is tough. Part of me thinks you definitely over stepped your bounds by googling the boyfriend in the first place (but I won’t rehash that debate from earlier this week).

    That said, I don’t know that talking to her about it will do any good. It is a sever overstep to talk to someone about their boyfriend that you snooped to learn about. I think banning her from working from home because of her boyfriend is also ridiculous if you let others work from home. She is an adult, so you should assume she knows all these things that you found (and frankly, if she doesn’t, its still not your business to bring it up since you are her employer, not her family or friend).

    That said, since pedophilia was one of the things you found, if there WERE a company outing coming up where people were bringing kids, I think that is the point where it would be somewhat ok to say he wasn’t allowed and bring up what you found.

    1. Roscoe*

      I do want to say that in re-reading, I learned the type of information he got. That is stuff that probably shouldn’t be shared outside the office anyway. I assume Insurance agents have something similar to HIPAA where you can’t be working on that with others. So in that fact, I think presenting it as “No one outside of this office should have access to the info” is an easy way to address the issue. Because frankly, even if he was a wonderful person, he still shouldn’t be seeing people’s information like that.

      1. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

        The information was available via a google search which is accessible to anyone, even John Q. Public. I’m trying to understand why you’re throwing HIPAA into this when HIPAA doesnt apply. Insurance agents are bound by ethics to do no harm to their clients; this guy is not a client or agent. You’re going hard in the paint to protect this guy.

        1. Madeleine Matilda*

          I think Roscoe meant the information that the employee took home that had names and addresses. That information may be protected and shouldn’t be shared with those outside the workplace.

        2. Afiendishthingy*

          I think the HIPAA comment was in regards to the client information, not the boyfriend’s.

        3. spock*

          I read it meaning the client information OP doesn’t want Boyfriend to see, not the information about the boyfriend. Thus a way to say “don’t let ANYONE see that kind of info”.

        4. Armchair Analyst*

          The comment you’re addressing was addressing the employee in the OP who took work home and had her (sex offender) boyfriend look at the work. The work was from the employer and had client’s identifying information on it. The employer is fearful that the sex offending boyfriend will look at the client’s identifying information. In US medical offices, HIPPA protects a patient’s identifying information from being shared outside that medical office. The analogy is that HIPPA would prohibit the employee from sharing a patient’s identifying information with her significant other; therefore, is there a similar policy that would protect the client’s identifying information from outside of the employer’s offices in this industry.

          Just to clarify. I can see how it got confused.

        5. Paris*

          Roscoe meant that the insurance company clients are protected by some form of confidentiality. No boyfriends whatsoever should be assisting staff with their workloads, especially when that work includes identifying information.

        6. Yvette*

          I think Roscoe was referring to the information the employee showed her boyfriend, when she brought home marketing materials with customer names and addresses. Not the information the LW found via Google about the boyfriend.

        7. Brown Kitty*

          I believe Roscoe is referring to the information OP’s employee took home, instead of information OP found on Googling the boyfriend.

        8. Erin*

          The insurance agency’s clients are protected under a privacy policy of some sort. She shouldn’t be taking those types of materials home with her.
          Also does her job involve driving to people’s homes? I know my insurance company sent someone out to photograph my home when I purchased it.
          If he’s driving her around to do that may be cause to fire her. Then it’s a huge liability issue.

    2. sunny-dee*

      But it’s not like her mother is telling her not to date the guy with the tattoos and the motorcycle. She’s not even saying don’t date the guy. What she is proposing is putting limits on what this employee can do in private, unsupervised, that would allow a predator to have access to sensitive information in an untrackable way. This is a person who works with client data — presumably addresses, ages, and medical information about children — and who is bringing that sensitive information into a private home with a sex offender. Do you really want a sex offender to know that there is an 11-year-old girl on Maple Street whose parents are named Sue and Jim? That’s like gift wrapping prey for him.

      There is no invasion of privacy in google. It’s a freaking public document, considering she hit news stories about the guy. If she had seen the guy’s picture in the local paper, that’s not snooping. Seeing the picture in the paper because she googled the guy is pretty much the same thing.

        1. Lilo*

          Agreed. Her boyfriend should not have access to this kind of info, no matter who he is. These kinds of industries require background checks for a reason. The guy would not pass but this is not a bad blanket policy to have. No third parties should be allowed access.

          1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

            Absolutely. I think it’s a pretty obvious thing that personal information needs to be protected and employees can’t show it to anyone. Not even family members. By “obvious” I don’t mean it should be clear to everyone without saying anything – I mean it should be obvious to explicitely tell about these things to new employees straight away when they arrive! (Well, most people would understand that they can’t share that kind of things, but not all and you can’t count on it. There is also such kinds of confidential information that most people wouldn’t automatically think of as confidential and then it’s even more important to make the rules clear.) I wonder if OP has explained the privacy rules to the employee at all and does OP themself understand the importance of keeping personal information confidential. If one of OP’s employees would have shown that material to their extremely trustworthy and law-obedient spouse, would this have been OK?

          2. sunny-dee*

            Oh, that doesn’t preclude good data management. I work from home and my company has very flexible flex time / WFH policies. BUT, we also have defined security policies (passwords, screen lockouts, etc) for all devices used for work, even personal ones. And we have rules on sharing any internal data (not even customer data, just work product) with anyone. Those should be in effect, no matter what.

            In this case, though, the employee has already shared personal data with a sex predator boyfriend. I think that warrants a direct conversation as well as reviewing data and system security rules with the other employee.

          3. LouiseM*

            Exactly. The sex offender aspect is completely a red herring. If her boyfriend is a nobel peace prize winner he should not have access to private documents. What a no-brainer.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes. I was going to chime in to say that this is a good opportunity for OP to reevaluate their safety protocols, which should be in place regardless whether her employee is dating a registered sex offender. There are resources that help people plan around situations involving potential stalkers, preserving client data confidentiality, etc., and OP should use this as an opportunity to create those plans. If there’s a concern about exposing confidential client data, that concern likely applies to all employees; it’s just especially concerning because OP knows more about this employee than the others. For all OP knows, there’s more than one registered sex offender SO involved.

          But I don’t think OP should raise the issue with her employee, yet. What would she say? “I googled your boyfriend and find him exceedingly creepy and dangerous”? There’s a lot of information and context that a Google search does not provide, and it’s problematic to make significant decisions from a position of assumptions and fear.

          [I am not bothered by the Google search; frankly, making that information extremely accessible to the public is the intent and purpose behind sex offender registries.]

            1. Ha'Penny for Your Thoughts*

              Not really, I agree with all of this too.
              To pass on a story from my days managing about a similar situation, we had a lady working for us who was pretty clearly in an abusive marriage; he starved her, there were bruises on the daily, she was anxious and skittish, etc. But according to her, he was positively angelic to the kids. We did our best to help her, because all she would tell us was that ‘he got angry’, ‘he had a bad day’. Domestic abuse lifelines, we drove her to the local shelter repeatedly with her kids, but it never really worked, she always ran back to him because ‘he just needs help’…then he came in one night when she was closing.
              Aside from my general anger and disgust at the heartless coward, there was a very, very strong vibe from him of just…sick f***. He left, she was having a panic attack, and out of a fit of rage, I googled the creep to see if he had any priors so I could just call the cops and give her some peace. He had a pretty unique name, and he’d had not only charges of sexual misconduct with a child, several of them, he also had charges of rape and attempted rape. She didn’t know a damn thing, and she’d been married to him for six years at that point.
              That being said, I did the googling with her blessing while she sobbed her heart out in the office; right now, raising the issue with your employee will likely lose her trust and build the walls up higher. Focus on the client data confidentiality; that is the biggest stake in this issue right now, since the boyfriend is a predator, and even if he /wasn’t/, it’s still not cool. Your best bet may be to contact a proper employment lawyer to get a handle on the legalities you’re worried about, and rightfully so, and they would be able to steer you into a better direction.
              PCBH has excellent advice as always; and for everyone else…look, folks, it’s really tempting to ask ‘HOW DID THEY NOT KNOW?!?!’ and want to burn the witch too. It is. But there are a LOT of things that blind people to the real world, everything from misplaced love and desperation to more general exhaustion and worry. And then…well, there’s hope that a person is being truthful when they say they are. Right now, all OP can do is protect their clients, and their business, by ensuring that the proper protocols for client data are followed.

              1. MsAlex*

                Did the woman you worked with get out of the marriage safely? Hoping so for her and her kids!

        3. Tuxedo Cat*

          Absolutely. I don’t want to make anyone paranoid, but the boyfriend in this story was caught. For all anyone knows, there could be unsavory characters in the other employee’s life who just have yet to be caught.

          1. foolofgrace*

            There could be unsavory characters in ANYONE’s life, no matter what they seem like on the outside. Perfectly nice people could have, for example, a brother whose actions they didn’t approve of yet there’s nothing wrong with the perfectly nice people.

            1. LouiseM*

              Yeah, I’m wondering if all the people suggesting insanely punitive actions against this employee have ever considered how many r*pists they associate with on a daily basis.

              1. 1.0*

                I have, and I’ve cut the ones I know about out of my life. Because they’re, you know, rapists and terrible people and don’t deserve to be around me. Are you saying you WOULDN’T drop a pedophile out of your life? Is that not a moral line you’re willing to draw?

                1. LouiseM*

                  The pedophile isn’t in the OP’s life! She does not need to cut the pedophile out of her life!
                  This is not at all like a person having a child abuser in THEIR lives or their friends’ lives and all these comments suggesting otherwise are absurd.

                2. 1.0*

                  “Yeah, I’m wondering if all the people suggesting insanely punitive actions against this employee have ever considered how many r*pists they associate with on a daily basis.”

                  to reiterate with the comment you wrote, and I quoted, asking about whether or not I’ve considered how many rapists I associate with on a daily basis: I have, and I’ve cut the ones I know about out of my life. That’s a pretty awesome moral line, in my opinion. And if I decided otherwise, and made it clear the rapist in my life was part and parcel of having me around, I think a lot of people would be pretty okay dumping me from their lives.

                  Again: are you saying you wouldn’t drop a pedophile out of your life? Am I obligated to be nice to people who knowingly keep pedophiles in their lives? I would suggest the answer to that is no, but I guess you do you.

                3. Lily*

                  I hope you understand that you know and are on good terms with a lot of rapists. You just don’t know they’re rapists.

                  Louise isn’t saying she wouldn’t cut out a pedophile. She’s saying that we all know people who are sex offenders; we just don’t KNOW that we know them. She’s saying the girlfriend might not know, and shouldn’t be punished for that. She’s saying that other employees in that office likely have a spouse or brother or father who is also a sex offender (that they might not know about). Louise is saying that punishing women for knowing a sex offender is really sexist and problematic, and it’s punishing the wrong person.

              2. Mad Baggins*

                I’m hoping none? And I’m hoping that if my coworker was dating a serial felon, they wouldn’t be allowed to join the company family picnic?? And especially since this whole thing started because the boyfriend made OP uncomfortable, and if the letter was “employee’s boyfriend makes people uncomfortable at work socials” then we’d all say OK he’s no longer invited??

                1. M*

                  I’ve been raped and I can tell you right now that I lost a whole bunch of friends because they felt my rapist was a “good person”. And I know many others who have experienced the same thing. So, no, it is unfortunately not at all reasonable to assume that people would cut a rapist out of their lives once they know who they are.

                2. Lily*

                  I had the exact same experience as M.

                  I also learned, through quiet conversations with my female friends after I went public about the assault, that almost every single one of them had been assaulted or raped. It’s not one very busy man running around committing all these crimes. These men are your friends and family.

                  I learned that I knew a lot of rapists and had no idea they were rapists.

                3. Mad Baggins*

                  I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you, M and Lily. I would certainly cut out anyone who did such a thing.

              3. Effective Immediately*

                For real. And how many are absolutely, 100% positive that no one THEY know would EVER do that?


      1. AMT*

        Also, she didn’t Google his name out of sheer curiosity. She Googled him because he made her uncomfortable and she wanted to see if there was any evidence that he might be dangerous. She did the right thing!

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Agree. I’ve had that happen with someone I knew outside of work. We dated for two weeks, he made me incredibly uncomfortable, so I googled him and found a mugshot from a DV arrest and ended things over text. Never saw him since, but he talked to mutual acquaintances after, and his impression seems to be that we were doing fine until one day I googled him and ended things based on what I found. He said he’d been treated unfairly. No, that is not what happened. I googled him BECAUSE he was scaring me, and my fears were then confirmed by what I found. Same here, it’s not like OP googles every one of her employees’ significant others, it’s just that this one gave her a reason to.

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              Gut instinct goes both ways. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t trust their gut, but it’s not infallible either.

          1. Jesca*

            I agree. Kinda similar situation, only the guy was lying about his name. Had a fake driver’s license and all. He just underestimated my supreme (kinda, but best word to describe finding out who someone actually is without ill intent) doxing skills that I rarely ever use. I started to get a super off feeling. I started down the rabbit hole of online handles and oh behold! There he is standing with his father in his graduation photo with a different name. Hmm. Ran a background check? Dude was and identity thief with even one acting case ongoing!

            Now when I tell people this story, I do not admit to my doxing skills. I just make up something like I saw he had two IDs, because people get creeped out by the idea that google exists and that they leave electronic foot prints everywhere. In the vein, OP doesn’t need to “out” herself either. She can simply say he looked familiar and she googled.

            I am on team tell her, btw, because she needs to use her sense and not bring him around, show anyone outside the company private docs (if she is in the UK especially, because there are huge fines for that), and if she doesn’t know, well now she does. But I would present it to her like she does already know, and that the above is just not OK. This is not a normal reaction in a business setting, but this also isn’t a normal situation, either.

            1. Mary Connell*


              And thanks for the note about people’s low tolerance for research skills. Shows up regularly in reactions to #resistancegenealogy.

          2. Mayati*

            Even if his story were the truth, it’d still be totally fair to end things over the google search. It’s dating. You don’t need to be “fair.”

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              That’s a fact. No one owes anyone anything in this situation.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              Seriously, even if she’d never had a weird feeling and just googled him out of idle curiosity, finding out about a prior DV arrest is an EXCELLENT reason to end a relationship with someone.

        2. Only here for the teapots*

          There are still far too many men who consider women speaking out for our own safety, against gender-based violence, as attacks against all men.

    3. Artemesia*

      And he rapes or harasses a client? You know this information; you found it out because his BEHAVIOR already made you uncomfortable? I would make whatever moves you need to make to protect co-workers and clients. He cannot be at client events; she cannot share work material with him or work from home. She has ALREADY involved him in your workplace with letting him work with marketing materials. Yikes.

      1. Lilo*

        Yeah, if I found out a company knew a pedophile and repeat offender had access to my private information and did nothing, I would not just no longer use their services, I would probably call the local news, or, if relevant, report them to whatever organization governs them. This is beyond not okay for the clients.

      1. Amber T*

        Agreed. I’m assuming if OP googled and found nothing, they would have shrugged it off as “this is someone who gives me the creeps, but okay.” The sex offender/predator list is publicly available for a reason.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      I don’t agree. She might not know about his history. He might be lying to her and setting her up for abuse.
      If it was you, wouldn’t you want to know before he tried to abuse or attack you?

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          You’d rather your boss kept something like that from you? Even if not know meant you stayed longer and he eventually hit you or molested a kid he got access to because of you?

          1. young falafel wrap*

            I agree — things like this are bigger than just keeping professional boundaries. This endangers lives, imo, and if they don’t know, they need to.

        2. Drew*

          I don’t think it’s out of line for the boss to say, “Because of your partner’s criminal record, I have to ask you not to take work home that includes personal client data, and we won’t be inviting your partner to any company social events.” If the employee knows about his record, you aren’t telling her anything new; if she doesn’t, then she can follow up with you or with him or on her own or not at all, as she deems appropriate.

          Don’t make it about the relationship between them, just what you require of her as an employee.

          1. eee*

            strong agree. Given that the desired outcome is “keep this guy away from our files and our gatherings” while trying not to get sucked into a lot of drama, this seems the best approach.

      1. caligirl*

        When I found out almost 6 months after ‘workplace stalker’ had completely destroyed my life that one of the other people there KNEW the stalker had done the exact same thing to someone else at their shared prior company, I was so angry! The person stood by, watched and did nothing to warn me! Oh how I WISH that person would have said something, even in passing, that may have planted that seed of warning before things got so out of hand…

        Please tell her!

    5. Only here for the teapots*

      Why do you have an issue with googling anyone in the first place, let alone someone who creeped you out & may have access to sensitive information? Part of why sex offender info is made public is so people can discover it and protect themselves and any children in their care.

    6. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      Ascertaining public information about a convicted criminal is not overstepping any bounds. The results show why it is not.

    7. Namelesscommentator*

      It’s not overstepping bounds to google someone who creeps you out.

      I discovered a major flaw in our background check provider because an employee on their first day looked at me in a way. I cannot tell you what about the look set me off, but I had to leave to calm myself down. Google showed numerous sex and other crimes when our Bgc provider cleared him. Instinct can be surprisingly on point, and when we re-ran the background checks 3 other people that I had been a little put off by were flagged for major sex crimes.

    8. Also afraid to put a name*

      Roscoe, I feel like you’re going to get a lot of flak for this comment, but I agree with you. It doesn’t sound like the LW would have placed these restrictions on her if she had never met the boyfriend, so it seems unfair to exclude the employee from privileges because of her private life. LW states that they have two employees (and also mentions that they are both female, which seems irrelevant, but I digress). It’s going to seem even more preferential if one employee gets to do things the other doesn’t, and it’s unrelated to job performance.

      And since I’ve seen other comments that seem to me to imply otherwise: The ONLY person who is responsible for rape, sexual assault, or stalking is the person doing it. If the LW doesn’t take action against her employee, they are still 1 million% unresponsible for the boyfriend’s behavior. Full stop.

      Every employee should protect confidential information and exclude non-employees from accessing it. If that rule isn’t in place, make that a policy today and inform both employees about the new policy without pointing fingers at employee and boyfriend.

      LW … what happens if you bring up this personal information on employee’s boyfriend, and your employee entertains this very invasive conversation, and informs you that boyfriend completed independent treatment or chemical castration not covered in court records? Do your “rules” change? What would need to happen to make you comfortable affording this employee the same perks as your other employee? What if employee breaks up with boyfriend after rules are implemented — do you allow her to work from home or bring a new partner, then? Will you feel like you need to investigate every partner she has from now on out?

      Are you still able to trust your employee, or are you going to hold this against her consciously or unconsciously? If the answer is no, you don’t feel like you can continue to trust this employee’s judgement because of her choice of partner, then it’s time to bring in a lawyer to discuss your options.

      If I were employee and you brought this up to me, I’d start searching for a new job ASAP (which might be a favorable outcome for you). I’m assuming employee thinks they are a capable adult fully able to make responsible decisions, and I don’t see a way for you to have this conversation without implying otherwise, even if you make it about your business.

      1. Amber T*

        I don’t disagree with a lot of what you said, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you suggest the losing the employee is a more favorable outcome than having her boyfriend have potential access to employees/clients/files. If you’re (the general you) choosing to invite sex offender (and not just someone who drunkenly and stupidly) urinated too close to a playground) and pedophile into your life, then the outside world is going to place restrictions on you, including your job. It sounds like most of the restrictions OP is considering won’t affect the employee’s actual work/job, so if the employee wants to leave, then that would be up to her.

        1. Also afraid to put a name*

          For me, it’s less about the boyfriend’s access to anything (someone who is determined to be a criminal will find a way, regardless of the rules) and more about the level of internal judgement this employer may inevitably hold against the employee regardless of their work performance, and how that will impact their relationship. It may very will end up being the best for both of them for the employee to find work elsewhere, but there are different ways that could happen, and some of them may open up the employer to another type of risk (i.e. the risk of being sued, the risk of being personally harassed).

          I’m also wondering about the larger picture here on how the employer will move forward evaluating the propriety of allowing any employee’s significant other to events or allowing any employee the right to work from home.

          I’m a survivor of sexual assault, so I don’t say this very unpopular opinion lightly, but I disagree that the choices of the boyfriend should be held against the employee. The LW found evidence of sexual deviancy in the past. We don’t get the context of knowing how much time has past, and what the employee and boyfriend have been doing to work through that. The employer seems content to jump to conclusions and stop treating her employee like a responsible adult — as the business owner, they get to do that when it makes sense to them.

          Not a single person here seems to find it possible for a responsible adult to have a responsible relationship with a former sex offender. Hearing about crimes against children makes me physically ill, but I’m finding the tone here related to the responsibility that employee and employer have for boyfriend’s behavior to be very concerning. If either one choose to do absolutely nothing, they are still never responsible for attacks they do not commit.

          1. FYI*

            There’s no information that he’s a “former” sex offender. All the information points to him being untreated still, including the LW’s gut reaction upon meeting him that he was creeping on her. So, yeah, it’s not possible for a responsible adult to be in a relationship with that.

          2. Amber T*

            OK, now I’m disagreeing with a lot of what your saying (particularly with the use of “sexual deviancy” as it relates to pedophilia and stalking, but that might be getting into too much of a tangent).

            Regarding fairness among all employees regarding working from home – this employee already showed poor judgement by showing and “getting help” from a non-employee. Doesn’t matter who her boyfriend is there, that’s a breach of privacy and OP would be right to revoke her ability to work from home there.

            How is OP supposed to judge her employee’s responsibility level if she doesn’t bring it up with her?

            1. Also afraid to put a name*

              I used sexual deviancy instead of describing the multitude of crimes, not to downplay pedophilia. I also associate the word deviancy with a pretty negative connotation, not as a cutesy word, so I think we agree that the crimes committed here are unforgivable and disgusting. If my wording came off as flippant, that wasn’t my intention.

              We also agree that LW should address the work-specific issues with her employee — which, from my reading of the letter, it seems like she might not have brought up with employee if LW hadn’t been worried that the PPI would be used by boyfriend to commit more sex crimes? Maybe I’m misreading there, but that’s what I took away.

              Employee’s job responsibilities presumably don’t have anything to do with sex, sexual crimes, victims of sexual crimes, children, victim advocacy or anything related to boyfriend’s crimes. So, her responsibility level shouldn’t be judged by her choice of boyfriend, as abhorrent as we find that choice, but by the choices she makes at work … which have already been problematic because of the PPI sharing, so there’s grounds enough there.

              Back to Roscoe’s comment, I might just ban all two of my employee’s significant others coming to company outings instead of choosing to talk to my employee about her boyfriend’s past. Between that and covering the proper protection of PPI (and presumably disallowing work from home due to that), there doesn’t seem to be a need to bring it up expect for the fact that it’s horrifying.

          3. Indie*

            The OP doesnt ‘judge’ though. For all she knows the employee has no idea. She has also considered the possibility LW is cool with his past and in that scenario only cares about practical issues such as protecting employees and clients.

      2. Mark Richards*

        I have to strongly disagree with your “responsibility” comment. If I know that a person is a rapist, and I knowingly let other people be victimized by him, then I share in his culpability. This doesn’t mean he isn’t also responsible, but to the degree that I have a duty to protect others and can do so, if I fail, then I am responsible. A random person getting attacked by a bear isn’t my fault. But if there’s a bear in the house and I don’t tell anyone and just say “Go in, make yourself at home” when I know full well that there’s a bear in the house makes me responsible for their injuries, even if it’s not my bear and I didn’t even want it in there.

        1. Carrie*

          If I know that a person is a rapist, and I knowingly let other people be victimized by him, then I share in his culpability.

          That’s getting perilously close to the line where rape victims have to tell the world or the next victim is their fault. I suspect you’d rather not go there.

          1. LouiseM*

            +1. You’re not hiring this guy to watch your children. You’re hiring someone associated with him to do a job. I don’t see how this woman with a potentially dangerous criminal for a partner would see her life improved by also losing a job.

          2. Lexi*

            I think if he was not a pedofile that would be a good argument. But being a pedofile I cant empathize with that and I want to go that route with pedofiles. Because preying on children is not a crime most of us are forgiving or forgetful of.

          3. Anony McAnonface*

            Disclosing your status as a rape victim can be very damaging and revictimizing and no one should have to disclose their rape.

            That said, I think in this case the person who has the information is not a victim/survivor/etc. They know someone is dangerous to children and have literally nothing to lose. I genuinely think that they have a responsibility to do something. If he hurt a kid at a company picnic because they were too worried to speak up? Yeah, they’re culpable. If you know someone’s a serial killer and they are able to kill someone else because you said nothing? Yeah, you’re culpable. I think you’re right, it’s a dangerously thin line, but sometimes doing nothing is as good as helping.

            1. Lily*

              To add: I agreed with you to a point there, Mad Baggins, but I’m drawing a HARD line at expecting *victims* to out themselves to warn you. I was forced into that exact situation by an ex who thought it was my “duty” to warn every woman Rapist stepped out with. He told her *and told her my name*. She didn’t believe him. He then forced me to send her a FB message describing in detail the entire attack to try to persuade her that I wasn’t making it up. He yelled at me and berated me when I was upset with him/didn’t want to, so I did. She didn’t respond to me, but refused to believe me and declared me a liar. It was horrible, absolutely devestating and traumatic. Victims are not responsible for their rapist’s assaults and we really do not owe you our stories to try to convince you to believe us. An ally, yes. Us? No.

              1. Confused in the Midwest*

                My heart goes out to you, Lily. That’s terrible. Victims are not responsible for their attackers’ behavior–full stop. I’m sorry you had to go through that trauma all over again.

          4. Mad Baggins*

            Close to the line but not over, I’d argue. I’d feel pretty betrayed if I was sexually assaulted, and a previous victim knew me, and saw the offender with me, and said nothing.

            1. Confused in the Midwest*

              If I saw a friend hanging out with the guy who assaulted them, I would tell them. But I’m not sure I could tell a near stranger, particularly if that person knew the sexual offender better than they knew me. It took me years to acknowledge that I had been assaulted, not just had “sex I didn’t want to have”, and I still fight with the little voice in the back of my head that says it’s somehow my fault.

              Unfortunately, there’s always a cost/benefit analysis to disclosing assault, because not being believed can be dangerous to my mental and physical health. What if the person I warn decides I’m “just looking for attention” or tells me he’s a wonderful guy, so I must have been asking for it? What if she decides to tell her date/bf/husband what I said, and he retaliates?

              In a perfect society, the only person put at risk by disclosing sexual assault is the person who committed the sexual assault. We aren’t there yet, and pretending we are only hurts the victims more.

          5. Lily*

            I hear what you’re saying, but I fully expect my friends to tell women dating/hanging out with my rapist, “Hey, Ben is bad news; he raped a friend of mine.” And obviously not share details or whatever, but honestly, that kind of work can and should be done by allies. I would never let a friend or acquaintance walk into a situation with a man I KNOW to have raped my friend because “meh not any of my business.”

    9. Frankie*

      Why are you concerned about the sex offender’s criminal status being known? Also, you’re concerned about customer names & addresses but not the personal safety of the boss or coworker. This is publicly available information for a reason. It’s not private or protected information. It’s not at all an overstep to google someone who made you feel decidedly unsafe.

      The fact that it’s entering a work environment makes it uncomfortable and complicated, but no less an issue of safety.

      1. Roscoe*

        I’m not concerned about the fact that his info is public. However, regardless of the fact that she was correct, I do find googling your employees sig other to be problematic. I don’t think we should just go around googling anyone we met. If my boss decided to google the woman I was dating, I’d be pretty annoyed by that.

        1. Amber T*

          When you’re a woman and you meet a man who gives you the ultimate creeps, you google. Gut reactions are strong and usually mean something.

        2. GreenDoor*

          There’s a world of difference between googling someone just to snoop or find gossip and googling someone because a warning bell of some kind went off.

        3. Namelesscommentator*

          You can be annoyed by it, but your boss still has the right to google people. ESPECIALLY people in their workplace who seem off.

        4. Plague of frogs*

          What if your boss’s wallet disappeared during a visit from your girlfriend? Would you still be annoyed when he googled your girlfriend and found out that she was convicted thief?

        5. Indie*

          It must be nice to be a man. Not having any reason to check people out. Feeling public safety systems are nothing to do with you.

        6. Mary Connell*

          Very strongly disagree. In prior generations this kind of information would have been preserved in communities, sometimes in the whisper networks that women use to protect themselves when the law can do nothing, or will do nothing.

          Absolutely no problem with using Google as a substitute for a whisper network. I use my research skills to do thorough background checks before I work with anyone new, and every few years go through Megan’s List to check for members of my community and church. It’s not a complete guarantee of safety; I assume many offenders are not on the list, but it is one of the methods I use to protect myself and my family.

        7. Pomona Sprout*

          Suit yourself. Personally, I reserve the right to Google anyone I feel like googling,  at any time, for any reason or no reason. Especially some guy who gives me the creeps.

        8. Starbuck*

          This stuff is in the public record- it’s public information, for the public. Can I say public again? It’s not private personal stuff. OP met the boyfriend, then accessed public information about him. The whole point of that record is so you can Google it to protect yourself and others! I don’t understand the resistance to this action.

        9. seewhatimean*

          we are not allowed to google search potential new employees if we are involved in the search, and managers are discouraged from doing so at any point.

          That said, I think checking someone’s public information and taking steps to confirm it is the correct person, etc, is not problematic in itself. In fact, doing so would have saved us a rather uncomfortable term of employment with a new hire who was not long out of a plagiarism charge at another institution in which the hire’s behaviour was so far out-of-line, not even including the initial offense (ie their response to the charges was libelous) that eventually knowing about it put the entire term of employment into context that finally made sense. (We were lucky that it was a short contract, and our management mitigated the damage to some extent partway through (selective reduction of work, no reduction in pay, to avoid legal and workplace ethical issues)

    10. Indie*

      They make this stuff public knowledge for a reason! It’s a public CRIME not their personal life. Knowing what’s news isn’t ‘snooping’.

    11. Cheeky*

      I don’t think googling is out of bounds. There is a reason Megan’s Law exists, and it’s so that this information is publicly available, including through internet searches.

    12. Cornflower Blue*

      “She is an adult, so you should assume she knows all these things that you found (and frankly, if she doesn’t, its still not your business to bring it up since you are her employer, not her family or friend).”

      It’s never occurred to me to Google anyone I date and if I were dating a convicted sex offender, I WOULD want to know about it, whether it’s from my employer, friend or family. I think if you know someone is in a risky/dangerous situation and unaware of it, you should tell them.

      Especially something like pedophilia, where she could be having kids around him without knowing! Would you really want a kid being hurt because you felt like it wasn’t your business to tell her that her boyfriend’s a dangerous predator? Even if it’s awkward, tell her.

      It’s like seeing someone standing in the path of a rolling boulder – sure, they might know, but they might not. Either way, shout a warning!

  3. Blue Anne*

    I would say yes. Do it.

    I recently had a situation where I found out that someone involved in my friends group was a sex offender, in a similar way to how you found out. I didn’t say anything. Later on, a very good friend who is a survivor with PTSD found out and was, to put it mildly, incredibly disturbed. She was shocked, hurt and confused that I hadn’t warned people. I still feel terrible and am trying to rebuild the friendship. She was extremely triggered and dealt with mental health problems for weeks. I will always, always bring that kind of information up in the future.

    It’s totally valid to bring it up in the context of concern over professional matters. Probably more appropriate.

    1. MaureenS*

      This reminds me of two concepts over at Captain Awkward – Missing Stair and Geek Social Fallacies. Many of us are socially programmed to be ‘nice’ and not bring up unpleasant information. Just hide it and work around it.

      As for LW, I’m not sure how to approach this professionally. But the only way for a manager to approach this with a subordinate is by keeping it VERY professional. Focus on the impact to the business. Privacy legislation keeps getting stricter (GDPR anyone?) and keeping customer information secure has a significant impact to any business. From a business standpoint, it may be a good time to make some generic rules about data security & work from home policies.

      1. Future Homesteader*

        I think I like this approach the best! Make it about data security, not a specific person.

        1. Rey*

          I’m afraid that making it about data security only protects clients. This would not protect the employer or the other female employee. I know that this is going to be an uncomfortable conversation, but I think the safety concerns are big enough to outweigh that.

          1. Amber T*

            I’m curious if/how OP should tell the other female coworker. I feel like in that small of an office, if I was that other coworker, I would want to know and I would be angry if my boss knew and didn’t tell me, especially if something happened. I also admit this is a tricky situation and I have no idea how OP should bring it up.

        2. Artemesia*

          Yeah and when you make a general announcement about cleaning the kitchen or not peeing on the floor, the slob and the pisser immediately hear that and stop offending. This isn’t about nebulous data security (although that may be worth addressing separately) This is about a sexual predator who has already had access to client data and is a specific threat to your business. You have to address it specifically with her in addition to any general security upgrades you make.

      2. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

        I had a similar situation as well. My sister was dating a guy who had gone to HS with us that I didn’t remember. I googled his name to see if anything came up that would trigger my memory. I did finally remember him but I also uncovered a bunch of stuff that was horrifying: stalking, abuse, jail time for really violent threats to a hospital where an ex worked. My sister has bad taste in men and her choices are her own, but she also has a daughter and the safety of my 7 year old niece was the leading reason I said something to my sister and our mother (who sister lived with).

        I think you need to say something, especially if there’s a chance that this guy could have any access to info re: children your business may work with.

        1. Plague of frogs*

          My mom had a friend whose boyfriend moved in with her and her small child. She did not find out that the boyfriend was a convicted sex offender until his paperwork showed up in the mail.

          She would have really, really appreciated someone telling her.

          1. Anon For This*

            I do background checks on the people I date. Not even kidding. You NEVER KNOW about people.

            Personal story, there was a male who hung around the circle of friends from a large church I used to attend. He had a weird vibe to me, and I only spent time “alone” with him one time, and even then his roommates were home. After that night of his personality totally changing outside of earshot of other people, I avoided him like the plague.

            Fast forward 2 years, and I got a call from a local police detective, letting me know I had been identified as one of 13 females he had recorded with a hidden camera, changing after swimming. Other devices had not been identified. All of these women were his “friends” — one of them considered a close friend. It’s one thing to do this to strangers, but it is Next Level to do this to multiple people who trust you and know you and see you all the time.

            This man has a record (shout out to the ruthless attorney who made sure he was convicted and treated like a sex offender, this is not a sex offender crime in the state I live). However, this man now has a girlfriend. I do not know who she is, but he is the sweet-talking-est person I have ever met, and I am one million percent positive he has made himself appear to be the victim, if she even knows at all.

            Very scary. So now, I run background checks that I pay for. It doesn’t uncover everything, but a lot can be said for someone hiding or not mentioning something important that does show up on the report.

            And also, my gut was right the first time. OP, glad you listened to yourself. To often, we do not.

      3. Blue Anne*

        Yes, honestly, this is part of why I’m beating myself up so much. I’m aware of the Missing Stair phenomenon. And I know this friend from a radical feminist group! And even then I fell right into the socialized “don’t make waves, be nice” behavior anyway.

        It has led to a lot of self reflection, which is a good thing. And the sex offender willingly removed themselves from our group when we brought the problem up with him. But ugh. I have a lot of work to do on myself.

      1. Zillah*

        I don’t want to beat Blue Anne up – it sounds like this is something that she regrets, and I also think that it’s hard to know what to do when you’re put in that situation and understandable to choose wrong, especially given a lot of the messages we get from society.

        That said, I do think that it’s important to let people in your friend group know if someone has a history of sexual violence, especially when they’re a survivor. A broader society that covers for them is part of why predators continue to face few consequences for their actions.

      2. Workerbee*

        I felt the same way when I read it. We don’t always (by far!) automatically know the best thing to do in a situation, especially with eons of society and culture mores working against you. (As a very mild metaphor that I may regret using, I’m reminded of the “I’d want to know!” and “Don’t tell me, I’d rather not know” discussions that go on with cheating spouses & friends.)

        It’s how we learn. Blue Anne is appalled enough without having that extra burden–plus is actively trying to repair the friendship. I hope this won’t always be hanging over the both of them.

    2. Nonny*

      This. To address what others said above – abusers do not “learn from their past.” Abusers aren’t bumbling around, accidentally raping people, not knowing it was wrong before they got caught. That’s why “therapy” doesn’t work for them, even if they go. Abusers choose to abuse. This guy will always be an abuser. He doesn’t deserve the benefit of any doubt, and he doesn’t get any second chances.

      Also, I work in health insurance, and it’s a problem to have non employees help with work in the first place, even if they aren’t a predatory abuser. Your clients assume you aren’t letting your family members know about their insurance info, even the fact that they’re a client.

      1. Nonny*

        I meant to recommend the book, Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft, to anyone who somehow thinks abusers don’t know exactly what they’re doing.

      2. LouiseM*

        I find this comment horrifying. No, I don’t think child r*pists typically learn from their past. But part of the reason we are having a sweeping national conversation about what consent looks like is because people do sometimes abuse by accident and can learn and change. We teach our boys very toxic ideas about what it means to be a man and I would feel much more hopeless about the future if I didn’t believe that these ideas can be unlearned through serious effort. Then again, I do feel hopeless about the future reading these comments!

        1. Mad Baggins*

          I think you’re confusing Aziz Ansari with Harvey Weinstein. This guy didn’t misunderstand courting signals sent by an adult. He stalked and preyed on children. And all evidence suggests he has not stopped or tried to stop. Believe whatever you have to to sleep at need–but we don’t have to forgive this person.

          1. LouiseM*

            Did you read what I wrote? I specifically said I was NOT talking about child r*pists but responding to Nonny’s massive blanket statement about all abusers of all kinds. I absolutely do not think we need to forgive any pedophiles (it’s a bizarre suggestion that “we” have to do anything with them at all. They are not involved in the OP’s life at all currently.) But deliberate misreadings like yours are why I am done with this site!

            1. Mad Baggins*

              I did not *deliberately* misread your post, but I guess I genuinely don’t know what you’re trying to say.

              I see that you’re trying very hard to advocate leniency for the employee herself, which I think is important and admirable because she may genuinely not know/be lied to/be in danger, and I don’t think she deserves to never work again anywhere. But as long as she associates with an unrepentant criminal (as evidenced by not completing treatments and repeat offenses, plus the heinousness of the nature of the crime) she’s going to suffer the personal and professional consequences of that. And while I am sympathetic to victims of abuse, I am less sympathetic to active enablers of abuse, and I think that feeling is triggering the emotional response to this question.

              1. Optimistic Prime*

                It is a far leap to assume that she’s an “active enabler of abuse,” particularly when you yourself acknowledged that she may not even know about the boyfriend’s background (or, worse, might be a victim of abuse herself).

        2. ket*

          This guy can learn, and change, and whatever. Does he have to do it with access to the LW’s company information? No.

          This guy could turn into a saint. If he’s a real saint, he won’t be bothered that much by people knowing his past and being guarded as a result.

          Serious effort on his part does not mean access to a sleepover, client information, or my office or social occasions.

    3. A.*

      Recently a friend was excited about a blind date a coworker was setting her up on. I looked the guy up and he was a convicted sex offender. The charge involved a minor under 11. Of course I told my friend and she cancelled the date as she had a young child. When she confronted her coworker, turns out the coworker knew. The guy was the cousin of her live in partner and I guess she didn’t believe he was guilty. She also had small children. People are really really weird. I don’t regret telling my friend. If it’s public info, it can be shared freely.

      1. PlainJane*

        Ugh. Reminds me of the time in college when a friend of a friend let a known rapist walk me back to my dorm late one night. Rapist asked me if he could come in to “make a phone call,” and I said no b/c roommate was sleeping. He then went back to my friend’s dorm and tried to rape her. To this day, I cannot understand how anyone with a conscience could a) be friends with a rapist, and b) let someone walk off alone in the dark with that rapist.

    4. LouiseM*

      Yes, your friend was upset because she felt your silence on the matter violated your bond of friendship. This situation is really not the same or even similar.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      It’s probably worth communicating that if she breaks it off with him or the relationship otherwise ends badly, she knows that they have her back and that they’ll make sure she’s safe and secure at work.

    2. High Score*

      And PLEASE don’t allow ANYONE to leave the building with customer names and addresses of any personal information!

      1. BookishMiss*

        I cannot second this enough. PII/PPI should NEVER leave your workplace or be available to people other than employees. If it were WFH on a laptop that could be secured, that’s one thing, but taking home mailers? If I found out my insurance agency allowed that, I’d find a different agency faster than the Flash. The SO being a sex offender only strengthens my data security response.
        Part of this reaction is my work history in banking and medical records, both fields with very stringent data security. The other part is from being a part abuse and current harassment victim.

        1. It's Pronounced Bruce*

          It sounds like it wasn’t expressly allowed, but rather that she just did it without asking– which is why the LW is concerned that even if she tells her employee not to take work home, she might do it anyway.

    3. Oilpress*

      As a man, I would too. If she wants to think I’m a jerk for remembering this guy’s face then so be it. I think most rational people would appreciate the recall.

    4. Kate*

      I disagree, If he has that many charges she already knows and most likely doesnt believe it. I don’t think she should tell the coworker that is the girlfriend that she knows. She needs to implement a no work from home policy, that company information does not leave the office and find out what the boyfriend saw and make a judgement call on whether to contact them (ie if a customer is a daycare, kids place). She also needs to let the other women in the office know or casually let them know to google him. They need to know in case themselves or their children are in danger.

      1. Zillah*

        That’s not necessarily true. I had a friend who got involved with someone who told my friend that he was sent to jail and registered as a sex offender for having sex with a 16 year old when he was 18. I know the age of consent laws in the state, and when my friend told me that, I was like, “Ummmmm he is lying to you, that does not make sense.” My friend dug a little more and realized that the truth was much scarier – but he didn’t realize it right off the bat.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        I disagree that she already knows- she could but there’s no proof that she does.

        There’s someone in my research community who has had multiple high profile stories in national news about being a sexual harasser. He has harassed people who are popular in the research community. It’s discussed among people in our research. There are probably under 500 of us. And yet there are people I met who were unaware of what the guy in our research community did. I can totally buy this employee doesn’t know.

      3. Autumnheart*

        I dated a sex offender when I was younger (mid-20s). The guy painted it as a consensual relationship and the parents got angry, etc. and I didn’t want to be the a-hole holding someone’s past against them when they paid their debt to society, blah blah blah. I broke up with him for other reasons, but frankly the guy was just basically selfish and self-centered, thought that things should always go his way, and it was unfair when they didn’t. And he was extremely immature, which is no doubt why he thought having sex with someone half his age was an okay thing to do and why he couldn’t really accept the blame when he got in trouble for it.

        But society REALLY sells the idea that women should always give a man “a chance” even when he’s a scumbag or a loser. As though there is no man so crappy that a woman shouldn’t try to look past his flaws and see the diamond somewhere in the manure pile. It took me a few more years to realize that a) that’s a bunch of crap, b) even if it wasn’t a bunch of crap, I actually have zero obligation to date the guy who wound up on the sex offender list for any reason, and c) having standards doesn’t make me the bad guy here. I have gotten plenty of pushback from Internet strangers (almost always male) who refuse to accept that any guy, regardless of his personal character, could somehow not deserve to date any woman that caught his interest. It’s pretty eye-opening.

        So looking at this LW through that lens, maybe she’s trying to fulfill her social duty to “give a guy a chance”, who knows. But since this man is a known felon and since the employee in question is inappropriate giving him access to customer data, I agree completely—tell the employee you know he’s a sex offender. Tell her he is not allowed at any company events or on company grounds, period. Tell her that her work is confidential company property and that showing it to non-employees prior to launch is a firing offense (this is most certainly the case in the company I work for). Tell her that you are not going to continue to employ people who have personal relationships with those who present an active danger to other employees and clients.

        I’m a little on the fence in regard to firing her outright vs. giving her time to ditch the boyfriend. It would be totally aboveboard to do it, but at the same time firing someone for their relationship choices feels like policing someone’s personal life inappropriately. But as others have said, there’s a lot more at stake with THIS guy and THESE clients than can be solved by simply looking at the ethics. Fire her.

        1. BeenThere*

          Comment of the day Autumnheart! “But society REALLY sells the idea that women should always give a man “a chance” even when he’s a scumbag or a loser”

        2. Scott*

          With respect to dating, you’re never ever obligated to do anything at all. Never forget that.

      4. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

        I dunno…the LW says that the boyfriend is new to the employee. I think it’s fair to assume she likes him and hasn’t gone digging for anything that might take the shiny off her new boyfriend. LW might be like me and be one of those people with a really fine tuned bullshit meter. I know the moment I meet someone whether they can be trusted or not – even without a google search. I have never – not once! – been wrong. My sister is the total opposite. She hasn’t got that thing inside her that makes her hear/see/feel the red flags popping up all over the place because she’s too happy.
        I do think that LW needs to say something. I think it’s highly possible that employee will get defensive about what she’s being presented with. Nobody wants to think that they wouldn’t pick up something like this. She might stay with him and that’s on her, but LW will know that she’s put safeguards in place to protect the employees and clients at the workplace and that is really what is important here.

      5. logicbutton*

        More transparency can only be a good thing in this situation, I think. If the girlfriend does know about the charges and doesn’t believe they’re true, she probably isn’t going to like the reason that she’s suddenly not allowed to bring work home, but so what? It’s a reasonable policy, whether the boyfriend is dangerous or not. I especially think LW should tell the girlfriend what she found if she’s also going to be alerting the other coworker, because if she doesn’t and it gets back to the girlfriend (and it absolutely could, because it wouldn’t be appropriate for LW to forbid the other coworker from saying anything), that will cause a lot more hurt and potentially drama than if she were just up-front about it.

        Anyway, who knows? Maybe the girlfriend will be totally understanding, or maybe it’s all a case of mistaken identity and she can clear that up, although even if that is the case it shouldn’t affect whether the office has policies preventing non-employees from seeing clients’ personal information.

  4. Pollygrammer*

    Would “based on some information I’ve been made aware of, I need to ask you not to involve Boyfriend in anything to do with the company” work? Make it clear that he’s not allowed at the office, not invited to events, and not allowed to be privy to any company information. That’s not something you have to apologize for.

    1. MK*

      I cannot imagine anyone getting this speech from their boss and leaving it at that. And frankly, this would create additional drama than if the OP simply told her employee what she found out.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I guess I have a hard time believing that the employee doesn’t know if the information was so easy to find.

          1. michelenyc*

            +1 Exactly this! I have a very good friend that did not find out that her husband was a on the sex offender list until she returned from her honeymoon and the police knocked on the door wanting to know why he didn’t update his address. He of course had an explanation; he was framed by the girl. Needless to say I helped her pack up and get out of there about 9 months later. It was horrible for her. Sometimes you just don’t know someone as well as you think.

            1. lurker4ever*

              I googled a friend’s fiance and found his long prison record. After confronting her I learned she knew about it and had him change the spelling of his name to avoid people finding out. We aren’t friends anymore, but I don’t regret bringing it up to her. Her employer hit the roof when she googled him, but for some reason she is still working there. She’s a lawyer. Sometimes you can only do what you feel is right. I miss her friendship, but do not regret getting him out of my life.

            2. Rainy*

              Yup. I knew someone many years ago through an organization I belonged to who managed to successfully hide that he was a convicted felon on the sex offender registry for sexual assault on a minor. He was traveling out of state without notifying his PO (violating the terms of his probation) as well. It all came out when he was nominated for and won a leadership position that dealt directly with children in the organization, acted inappropriately in a way that made a parent do an internet search, and was subsequently discovered to be on the sex offender registry. Many of us who weren’t in leadership roles were furious and horrified that no one in leadership had done due diligence, but he gave the appearance of a solid citizen and that’s what the leadership of the organization had judged him on. (The fact that he was a grade-A suckup probably helped.)

              Even after he was found to be on the registry, he did his best to play it off (he was framed, the girl was troubled, his legal representation was incompetent, he was forced to plead guilty to avoid a scandal, etc etc) and a lot of people believed him until he assaulted a young teen at a party and then screamed at her parents when they intervened, all in front of witnesses. But even then, there were people who believed that all of it was him somehow being framed. I’m sure there are people who still believe he was innocent and just had a lot of consistently bad luck in the same arena of his life.

              Which is all to say: yes, it is extremely common for people like this to be so good at manipulation that they can keep getting other people to believe that they are stand-up guys.

              1. Salamander*

                +1000. There can be a whole lot of half-truths, victim-blaming, and omissions made by people who want to diminish the severity of what they did.

                “It wasn’t that bad.”
                “She said she was legal.”
                “I was framed.”
                “It was a Romeo/Juliet situation.”
                “It was totally consensual.”
                “Her parents didn’t like me, so they pressed charges.”

                …when the reality is very far afield of that.

              2. Steve*

                If the bad people were so obviously off-putting to all of society then they would never get close enough to have victims.

                For a specific example, look up Russ Williams. His wife never knew, and neither did his close colleagues.

                But if the LW sensed a weird vibe within minutes of meeting him then there is a better chance that the employee knows. Yet we should never assume.

          2. podcast recommendation*

            Not employment related, but if anyone is interested in just how controlling some people can be within relationships, the podcast series Dirty John is phenomenal! Would recommend diving in without googling, as it may bring up some spoilers in the news.

            1. sfigato*

              Also, it’s not as helpful if the person you are googling has a common name. John Smith or Frank Chen or David Rodriguez, etc.

          1. Aiani*

            This thread just made me realize that I have never Googled my husband and we’ve known each other for 16 years and been married for 5. It just doesn’t really occur to me to Google people.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Ditto for me, but when we met our spouses, google had only just started, and Ask Jeeves really didn’t work well for this kinda thing.

              1. Aiani*

                I should also say that he has a super common name. I Googled him after making this comment because I was curious what comes up… the answer is a lot of people who aren’t my husband come up.

            2. MarisaNova*

              I Google myself periodically! I want to know what the rest of the world can find out about me. I have nothing to hide, but I want to make sure what shows is accurate. So far, so good!

          2. Roja*

            And of course there’s a broad swath of the population for whom googling wouldn’t make any sense anyway. My husband and I both have extremely common first and last names; even if you google me AND my field, I’m still the fifth result down surrounded by literally dozens of other women in my field with my name. Husband would be the same way, unless you knew where he worked. He could have been a massive sex offender and it still would have been buried on page 5 of Google, even if you had some more information than just name. And there are so many people like that!

        1. MLB*

          Abusers are master manipulators and prey on vulnerable people. It’s not that hard to believe.

          1. BookishMiss*

            Added to social pressure to always think the best of people and give the benefit of a doubt, and you get a perfect storm. I totally believe it.

        2. Anon anon anon*

          I wouldn’t be compelled to google the name of someone I was dating necessarily, *maybe* if it was a tinder date or something, but if I met a guy through friends or at a bar, probably not. Even if the information is very available (though I definitely agree, make sure it’s not just a case of the same name if there was no picture/otherwise specifically identifying information), the employee wouldn’t come across it if they weren’t looking.

          Also: I was very abused, physically, mentally, and sexually as a child. It pushes out your spectrum for what’s ok very far and it takes years or decades to recover. You meet someone that anyone else would know is a problem, but because they aren’t as bad as what you grew up with, it doesn’t seem like it’s bad, it’s not at the end of your “this is not ok” spectrum. Alison routinely states that toxic jobs can warp your sense of what’s normal. Toxic families do the same. If this employee is from DV she’s probably not going to register problem behavior nearly as intensely as someone else will

        3. A.*

          I would fire an employee who was knowlingly dating a pedophile. And I wouldn’t miss a second if sleep. At will state means I can fire you for any reason that is not discriminatory and child abusers don’t fall within a protected class, so you would be gone. I don’t want someone with questionable judgement or poor character working for me. Especially handling sensitive information.
          OP should bring it up to the employee. Maybe she doesn’t know. But once she is aware, is she continues to date him I would fire her.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        I agree. I’m sure the employee would demand to know what the information is if she doesn’t know already.

      2. Chalupa Batman*

        Yes, I think this would be the start of the conversation, not the end of it. It’s possible she’ll say ok and move on, but even if we assume she’s aware, she’s with him, so obviously based on her understanding of this guy’s situation, she thinks he’s ok. She’ll either say “is this about the arrest” or something similar, or be totally shocked and want to know why. OP should be prepared to clearly and concisely explain that the details of Boyfriend’s arrest history sufficiently establish a potential risk to others and OP is not comfortable exposing clients or staff to that risk. And that’s it. I think it’s fair to shut down any discussion of how “he’s changed!” and keep reiterating that there’s no business reason for him to be on the grounds or exposed to client info, so he needs to not be.

    2. Antilles*

      Not by itself it wouldn’t.
      1.) If she doesn’t know anything about the boyfriend and thinks he’s just peachy, she’ll immediately react by asking what information. It’s such an oddball request that it’s going to draw scrutiny.
      2.) If she *does* know about the boyfriend but doesn’t care for whatever reason (he’s changed, it was a frame, etc), then it doesn’t actually help you evade the conversation, because she’s going to immediately know what you’re talking about and protest.
      If you want to use that line as an opener to the conversation, it’s fine, but banning the boyfriend from being in any way involved with the company is such a specific request that a generic statement like “based on some information…” isn’t going to hold up on its’ own.

    3. Adele*

      I would not be this vague. I would be entirely truthful that you had picked up some very weird vibes and so googled the guy and then would lay out what you had learned. I would tell the employee that you are, of course, concerned for her well-being but it is not your intention to interfere with her relationship. However, because the safety and security of your employees and clients is paramount, her boyfriend is not welcome at the company or company events and she is not to take work home or allow him to have any access to any company information. I would also be clear that any violations of this will result in immediate dismissal. While you don’t need to inform her of it, to that end I would install security measures such as software to make sure she is not copying or emailing work files.

      1. Person of Interest*

        I agree. Regardless of how you found out, you know this now and I think you are compelled to act to protect yourself, your other employees, and your clients, and there’s no reason not to be honest with her. I think the recommendations made below about verifying with your local law enforcement make sense too – they may be able to give you additional guidance for what is reasonable in terms of protection.

      2. Only here for the teapots*

        How many stories does a person need to read/hear before acknowledging that dudes like BF are bad news for more than just the SO? How would OP feel if this guy uses access to the workplace to harm someone else? Lay the situation out for the employee, complete with consequences for not complying, and be prepared to fire her if she chooses BF over job requirements.

        Also, as a survivor of a relationship with one of these dudes, if I knew my boss was ok with a habitual offender creeping around the place, I’d be livid and motivated to take remedial action.

      3. Clever Name*

        I think this is the exact correct response. Be factual. I was concerned, so I googled him. If you need help, I’m here for you, but I understand it is not my place to comment on your personal relationship. I do need to protect the business. He’s not welcome.

        She might know about her boyfriend, and have a different series of events to explain it, or she might not. Regardless, I think being honest about why this conversation is happening is the best approach.

        It sounds like tightening security would be best overall regardless of this employee’s boyfriend.

      4. Jess*

        This is where I fall too. This particular bell can’t be un-rung; OP knows the info & it’s disturbing enough that ignoring it is impractical. As icky as it may feel to approach an employee about their SO, since OP can’t ignore what she knows, she might as well just be honest about it. That being said, I wouldn’t expect the convo w/ the employee to necessarily go well. She may defend the boyfriend, be defensive re the idea that she would mishandle client info or that she’s being singled out as a risk, be angry that boss googled the boyfriend, etc. I definitely think the conversation has to be had regardless, but OP should be prepared for the possibility that it may elicit a hostile or defensive reaction.

        1. Definitely Anonymous*

          I agree and think a quick call to law enforcement would be helpful ahead of this talk (I’ve done that for another work related matter, and they were very helpful). I’d also be aware that whatever the fallout is on the day of the conversation, it’s likely to be worse in the following days, after she has a conversation with boyfriend. I’d want to learn from law enforcement if they have insights on how that part may unfold and if they have any insights, just to be aware.

  5. Stormfeather*

    I think I’d lean toward telling her. Maybe it’s overstepping but… enh, if she doesn’t know, and something DOES happen, that’s a loooot of guilt of “I knew and could have told her” waiting in the wings.

    I’m separately concerned by the fact that you know she *already* took what should be confidential customer information home, and HAD HIM WORK ON IT. And I don’t see what’s “only” about name and address! I mean yeah it’d be much worse if it had SS#s or credit card info, but it’s still not minor.

    Do you have any sort of security? Or receptionist? I’d definitely be banning her from WFH and having someone check (even if it’s a quick visual scan) to make sure she’s not taking materials home if she’s proven to be lax with this. And for that matter I’d make sure the rest of the employees know that it’s not okay to have other people handling customer info.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Yes. Crack down hard on bringing customer information home, then on having someone else work on it, and then on the sex offender status.

    2. Scotty_Smalls*

      Thanks OP said she found out employee took home marketing materials, so I assumed she meant the name and address of the org they work for. Regardless it’s totally fair to say that employee shouldn’t allow bf to work on things for the company.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I am imagining that it is a small car/home insurance affiliate of a national chain. I think the marketing materials are the kind that the local office might send to current and or potential customers. Maybe the employee took home the list of names to double check for duplicates, typos etc… and had the BF help her with it.

      2. Stormfeather*

        I can’t imagine though that she’s say “name and address” if it’s just for the company… then wouldn’t it be natural to say “just our own company’s info” or something?

        If they’re marketing materials, it sounded more to me like she took home something with names and addresses of customers so that they can then market to them.

      3. FYI*

        I have never, even in my first months in the workforce, asked anyone (friend, boyfriend, family member) to help me with my work. That’s just weird. If she can’t do her work without help from someone outside the company, that’s yet another flag on this play.

        1. TheCupcakeCounter*

          I used to help my dad with marketing materials all the time. He worked in a small enough office they didn’t have a secretary/receptionist so whenever they sent out their calendars, holiday cards, and other stuff he would bring it home for me and my sister to stuff and label. Its possible she needed to get the materials in the mail and ran out of time at work so did them at home and he helped. I can see that being easily accepted by most employers (at least when not dealing with someone like the employees BF).

          1. Stormfeather*

            I could see something like that happening within a family in decades past much much more easily than today, with a (questionable) BF + the added worries about identity theft.

            At the very very least, she should ask if it’s okay if she brings in outside help. And if I were a customer and knew rando people who just happen to be connected with an employee were getting to go through my personal info, even if it’s just name and address, I’d be pretty skeeved (and pissed TBH).

  6. Anomnomnomymous*

    At the risk of sounding rude, I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of how many serious questions have gotten relegated to “ask the readers” status. People are writing in for advice from a professional, not the peanut gallery. I’d understand for smaller things, but for stuff this big? That’s surprising. Do they at least get some sort of response from Alison that’s not posted here? It seems horribly unfair otherwise. We have really great commenters here, unusually so in fact, but the OPs deserve more of a response than this.

    Alright, bring out the pitchforks. I know I’m going to get flak for this, and I’m okay with that.

    1. CJH*

      Something I’ve seen in the comments is that many times people write in with a different area of expertise than Alison. For example, someone who works in DV prevention, social services, psychology, or law enforcement could probably give a much more helpful and well-founded answer to this question.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Yes, this. It’s a workplace question but it’s also not something where Alison doesn’t need the insight of other professionals.

    2. Louise*

      I mean no one’s paying Alison for her advice, so no one’s really entitled to an answer from her.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        True. I have emailed a few things that have never been answered, and I know that I am not entitled to an answer from her about them.

    3. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I’m assuming that Alison replied privately to the LW for this one. But yes, I would agree and I really want to read Alison’s opinion on this one before the commentariat’s.

      The fish microwaver and nail clipper? Sure, let’s all weigh in. Actual security and safety risks? While we all have opinions and feelings on it, I want to know what the professional response is before the emotional one would be.

        1. Jenn*

          Does that really make a difference? Okay, then let me revise – if OP wants a HR/management professional to give them specific, actionable advice, then they should contract out to a HR firm for their small business. Bottom line, you get what you pay for.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Well, she wrote to someone who has a monetized website to talk about HR and management issues, who is an HR professional. I mean, yeah, I guess they could (and apparently should) hire someone who cares, but I don’t think it’s fair to criticize someone who WROTE TO AN ADVICE COLUMN for not getting advice. She was getting advice, in more of a sanity-check kind of way. Like, “does doing this even make sense?”

    4. CoffeeLover*

      I’m thinking Alison is throwing these challenging ones out to us because she doesn’t know how to respond. I think that’s better than the person not getting any response at all.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah. It’s not the kind of question that’s going to have a right or wrong answer.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I agree with this. Similar to the “should I date my boss’ daughter?” letter from last week, this one doesn’t have a clear right or wrong answer. The commenters here are a thoughtful group and will give a range of responses and draw out a lot of nuances and provide a lot of stories about relevant experiences. So in some ways making these kinds of letters into “ask the readers” feels right to me. By doing so, Alison is essentially saying “There’s no one right answer to this one, so here are a lot of things to consider as you think through this.”

      2. Roja*

        Or she does have an opinion, but it’s a could go either way question and wants the OP to see the back and forth in the comments. Seeing things hashed out is often very illuminating and gives more information than a single, authoritative answer.

      3. OhNo*

        As much as we like her opinions and advice, Alison’s human, too, so I’m glad she’s got a plan in place for questions that deserve answers but that she might not be able to answer herself for any reason.

        In addition to other reasons, it’s a good solution for when she knows that her response would not be completely unbiased. I don’t know if this question is one where this applies, but just speaking for myself: I would never be able to approach this specific situation, even just to give advice, without my own personal biases getting in the way. It’s nice to have a big comment section so different people with different opinions can all share their take with equal weight, rather than having one “official”/”correct” answer, and then a bunch of opinions.

    5. Business Manager*

      I’m inclined to agree with you on this one especially since it’s bridging personal & professional for the employee.

    6. Scared to leave a name*

      I agree that I too would value Alison’s input, and that leaving this to comments seems an unfinished response. Perhaps though, since this is a heavy topic it’s wise to gauge public opinion before weighing in in a more complete response?

    7. Beth Jacobs*

      I might be wrong, but I think Alison uses “Ask the Readers” for when she’s stumped.

      I think that some difficult cases are best resolved by reading multiple viewpoints and judging which advice “sticks with you”. It’s kinda like talking to friends about whether you should break up with your significant other – when you hear their advice, you’ll know whether you want to take it or not. Alison is wonderful at coaching letterwriters into wording difficult conversations. But this isn’t just a question about communication or conventions – it’s essentially a moral question delving into what’s right and wrong. So there’s no right or wrong answer, but it can certainly help to lay out the different options for the LW. And there, I think 500 commenters might be better than one columnist, no matter how excellent and experienced.

    8. You don't know me*

      I think in this instance maybe Alison could see both sides and wanted more people to weigh in? One on hand, her personal life is not her boss’s business to butt into. On the other hand, when her personal life can affect the boss’s business then she should say something.

      Also, having more people weigh in might bring some out some people who actually have had a similar experience in their past and they help explain what did and did not work for them.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Well, in this case the boss is worried about a felon having access to client data because the employee has already given him access to work data. That’s not a personal issue, it’s a professional one. While she has obvious concern for her employee personally, the OP has some legitimate concerns about this guy having access to clients, and the restrictions she wants to impose are to limit that access.

        That’s not butting into her personal life, anymore than it would be butting in if the OP found out her employee was screwing a customer in order to get his business.

      2. JamieS*

        OP wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) focus on the employee’s personal life but rather the impact on her company. The employee can date who she wants but I’m taking the stance it’s perfectly okay to flat out ban pedophiles from company sponsored events and OP doesn’tnt need to take an opposing opinion into consideration.

    9. [insert witty username here]*

      I think it’s better to put the questions up for readers’ comments than to not answer the question at all, which is another valid option Alison has (there’s no way she can answer ALL the questions she gets, I’m sure). Plus – what makes Alison any more “professional” than any of us*? We’re all workers and many are managers. As CJH points out below, we come from all walks of life and can offer different perspectives.

      *I am not in any way disparaging Alison with this comment – it’s just to point out that you don’t have to have some sort of certain qualification or training or certificate or whatever to be an advice columnist. Alison is particularly good at it, to be sure, but it’s not like she’s the only one uniquely qualified to give advice. I think it shows a lot of humility, grace, and self awareness that she acknowledges she is not the end-all, be-all on ALL subjects.

    10. Someone Like Me*

      I think that’s fair, and I’d love to see an “official” response from Alison with these letters, too. But I also get the sense she’s choosing “big” questions for these because there are a lot of angles to cover and, as CJH points out, the commentariat has a wider variety of experience and backgrounds. It’s also possible that it’s safer, in our litigious culture, to spread the advice-giving around for some of these questions; it sounds a little ridiculous to me even as I type it, but I guess I could imagine a situation where a letter writer (or the subject of a letter) got pissed at Alison and tried to sue her for the advice she offered.

      I also think it’s fair to point out, as Dan Savage often does, that advice from an advice columnist is not binding. Plus, it’s free. And finally: We don’t know everything that happens behind the scenes — it’s possible that Alison has offered her own thoughts to the letter writer via email and added, “But I’m also going to run this by the blog’s commenters and see what they say, as someone may have more insight here than I do.”

    11. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I get 60+ letters a day. I answer about 7 a day here, which means that a huge amount go unanswered for lack of time. Having a letter used as an “ask the readers” post means the person gets an answer (lots of answers!) when they otherwise might not.

      Right now, my schedule means that I can’t keep up the number of posts I was doing previously (which frankly is a bizarre amount of posts for one person anyway). This is a way to keep a Thursday morning post, when otherwise there would be none in that time slot.

      But also, the purpose of an advice column is not first and foremost to provide individual people with answers; if it were, advice columnists would answer everyone privately and that would be it. They have a broader purpose and audience than that. That’s why I don’t answer letters on a first-come, first-served basis. I consider things like how interesting something is, or how recently I’ve answered something similar, and so forth. There are lots of elements to it other than who “needs” an answer. I do try to answer people privately when I have time, but if you look at those mail numbers, most people still aren’t getting an answer (I felt terrible about that for a long time, but now have realized that’s just how advice columns work — and that if I try to answer everyone, I will burn out and eventually answer no one).

      With this one, I don’t think there’s one right answer; there are lots of ways to argue it. And to me, that makes it a perfect “ask the readers” question (similar to last week’s about whether to date the boss’s daughter).

      I’m going to keep doing these weekly for as long as my schedule is keeping me exhausted.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Thanks for this explanation. I agree that you generally do a bizarre amount of work here on an ongoing basis, and thank you for it!!

      2. Harper the Other One*

        I just want to say that I really appreciate your column and I don’t think all the readers have a good sense of how much time it takes even to write a simple answer! My work involves similar writing to answer questions (in private) and it easily takes 10-15 minutes to craft even a simple response. Plus, there’s an amazing group of people with diverse experiences in this comment section. That’s an asset and I’m glad that you draw on it regularly; I learn a great deal from the comments as well as the columns themselves.

      3. BRR*

        I want to add that you are also one of the most prolific advice columnists out there. I remember when you even used to post on Saturdays!

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Alison, I know you hear this from us all the time, but I just want to say that I appreciate the time you take to field these questions and the space you create for discussions like this. There’s value in the back-and-forth, and even though I’m sure all letter writers would love your attention and advice, I personally find “Ask the Readers” to be a useful vehicle for bringing out a wide array of approaches, perspectives, and advice.

      5. Kms1025*

        I think the “Ask the Reader’s” day is a great idea…keep up the good work Alison ;)

      6. OhNo*

        FWIW, I love the idea of having a post each week where readers get first crack at trying to answer it. It seems like it leads to a lot of back-and-forth discussion on the subject, which is really fun to read (for me, anyway).

    12. Someone Like Me*

      (Also: Alison is a longtime professional manager and an HR professional. I think that’s what Anomnomnomymous was getting at. You can be a professional with years of experience but never have spent time managing people, much less familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of employment law.)

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Is Alison actually any sort of HR professional? I always thought she underlined that she’s done a ton of hiring as a hiring manager, not in an HR role.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That definitely used to be correct (hiring manager, not HR)! Although given the work I now do for clients, it’s now somewhere in the middle.

      2. Engineer Woman*

        For sure, Alison is a professional (sorry, didn’t mean to imply otherwise), but it sounded like from Annononmonymous she felt Alison is a professional work advisor and should answer all these questions that come to her.

        Alison and this blog have been so useful to me. Thank you, Alison, for all you’ve done and continuing to do so.

    13. neverjaunty*

      I was right there with you up until the “pitchforks” comment. Performative martyrdom like this is useless trolling.

      1. Fiennes*

        I rolled my eyes hard at the “pitchforks” thing. Yeah, you dared post an anonymous opinion on the internet, o courageous iconoclast. I hope you survive.

      2. Hills to Die on*

        Also, who are you calling a peanut gallery? There are a lot of smart, thoughtful people here who add valuable insight and perspective.

    14. SophieK*

      Buuuutttt….everybody is free to weigh in on ALL the questions. The only thing missing here is Alison’s definitive answer.

      The wisest thing one can say when one doesn’t know is “I don’t know.”

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        That’s how I see it. It is out of Alison’s unarguably* broad experience.
        Alison could say either “tell your employee you discovered damning information” or “don’t open up a dialog with an employee about her personal life.” Then again, she could say , “well, the reality of modern business is someone in between.”
        Instead she asked if anyone with real experience had a real solution or real examples of consequences.

        *I thought it was inarguably, but autocorrect is shooting me down. But it suggests inarguable. I’m perplexed.

    15. bonkerballs*

      I mean, the two questions I’ve sent in didn’t get answered at all so fairness seems like an odd thing to worry about. I’m aware the Alison just isn’t able to get to everything, and so should everyone else who writes in. No putting all your eggs in her basket. This person is still getting smart, capable people discussing and answering her question. Not to mention, Alison is great, but it’s not like people are asking a doctor about a medical situation and random people off the street are answering. Alison didn’t have to get a special license to dispense advice here.

      1. FD*

        Whaaaaaaat, you mean Allison doesn’t have an Advice Columnist’s License? I thought that was mandatory in all 50 states before you were permitted to dispense advice on the internet! Unsubscribing!

    16. Emmie*

      I understand. I also think that no one – even an amazing workplace advice columnist – has the answers to every question. I can see why someone would have trouble with this question.

  7. Von_Sass*

    I would 100% consult a lawyer. then have a talk with her and give her your expectations- you arent telling her she cant’ date him, but that he cannot be involved in your business at all. He’s probably a master manipulator so I expect he will make her choose him or the job at some point.

    1. Juli G.*

      I concur. It’s worth the money for a couple of billable hours to have a strategy in place.

    2. Not An Admin*

      Yeah, I’m totally on Team Consult A Lawyer on this one.

      Putting aside concern for the employee herself, LW now has an obligation to protect her other employees and their families, plus potentially her clients. The lawyer would have a better idea of whether she should, or even CAN, ban him from her premises and company-sponsored events.

      I was hoping this was something where it was a conviction that was a few years old and the guy took his punishment and has been toeing the line since. But it’s pretty creepy that he isn’t.

      Once it comes time to talk to the employee herself, I’d first go into it with a brief mention of, “Hey, I know this THING about your boyfriend, I’m concerned for you, but it’s your business so I’m keeping out of your personal life. Just know that you can come to me if you need to.” Then I’d go in, “Now, for the business, I have to set down these rules…” And that part would be based on what the lawyer says.

      I’d likely immediately address the issue of her bringing work home without authorization and having a non-employee access it. Because that is seriously NOT COOL, boyfriend or no.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Hard agree. The last thing the LW needs is to find out hat this guy’s “helping” the employee harmed her clients or her business.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I agree. OP you should check with your company attorney here.

      FWIW, he probably should not be attending company events where it’s reasonable to assume there will be children. That may work into a non-issue and your other concerns such as company information could be the larger concerns.

      Master manipulator is right. I worked with people from all kinds of backgrounds, most of the known pedophiles were personable and likable ON THE SURFACE. This is part of their MO, it’s how they operate.
      FWIW, I told an employee that the person she was interested in was a registered offender. Long story very short, that worked into being a very good call on my part. It was the exact right thing to do. YMMV. Read all the way through what people have written here and then decide.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        These are all excellent points regarding consulting a lawyer. I am not a lawyer, and these aspects hadn’t occurred to me, but it seems as though the risk to the company is too high-impact and too likely, given the relationship, what has already happened (exposure of clients’ identifying information), and the perpetrator’s history of action (crimes) and inaction (lack of completing requirements, etc.).

      2. Celeste*

        I agree with contacting the company lawyer, and I think it should happen first. It’s okay to be in over your head on something and ask for help. The employee is a liability now, if for no other reason than she admitted she shared work information with her boyfriend. The company may even want a legal rep on hand for talking with the employee about measures that will be required if she wants to keep her job, and documenting it. She needs to understand that this is serious. It all needs to be handled like it’s about protecting the company, not making sure that the woman keeps her job and her boyfriend.

    4. Oilpress*

      I don’t think she needs a lawyer. She is well within her rights as a boss to instruct her employee to keep documents confidential. Also, she Googled a person’s name, which isn’t even close to breaking the law. People do this before they hire anyone, and presumably, before they date anyone.

      I am just shocked that the employee would actually date this guy after Googling him. Maybe she didn’t do that research yet.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think the issue is about navigating the employment law and privacy issues that can come up in this context. Of course OP has a right to require her employee to keep documents confidential. But I think OP has a wider array of concerns, and lawyers can be useful for assuaging fear, dismissing unfounded concerns, and providing steps for addressing the problem.

      2. rldk*

        Needing a lawyer is more about knowing if she has a legal obligation to act in a certain way or take certain, paper-trail creating ways. Giving that the information involves the justice system, there are grey areas OP may be unaware of. Obviously, OP can react as an employer, but this isn’t about knowing if OP has done something wrong, it’s about knowing the best way to proceed.

    5. Scott*

      Is she really that irreplaceable though? Better to cut off the problem before it makes it way into other parts of the organization.

    6. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      Can Team Consult A Lawyer have jerseys? I’m in. Aside from telling the employee, I can see another reason to call in the lawyer and that’s a pure CYA move. The OP knows that, as of this moment, an employee shared client information with a sex offender convicted of stalking. This information included home addresses.

      As far as I’m concerned, you treat that like it’s a data breach and that means you bring in a lawyer to see what your liability and duty to inform looks like. Especially given the criminal background of the known eyes. If something does go wrong and it comes out that you knew? Oh, better safe than sorry.

      1. Von_Sass*

        yes. I responded purely from a CYA reaction, but I’m sure the employee could make some trouble if she feels she is being singled out or something, who knows. Yes, care about your employee and her safety, but at the end of the day, you just don’t want a pedophile at your company picnic.

    7. Blueberry*

      This, so much this. Dealing with a sex offender is too big and dangerous; I think OP needs actual professional legal advice.

      (The confidentiality of work materials is a separate issue.)

  8. SassyAccountant*

    First, I’d verify with your local law enforcement. Google isn’t always on the up and up.

    Secondly, I would assume she doesn’t know. I know that is unlikely but you are confronting her and it’s best to come from a place of concern then accusations. If she says she does know, then you have decisions to make right there.

    People judge you by the company you keep. If your customers should become aware of this they may not want to do business with YOU. It’s something you must seriously consider. Very recently my family and I were made aware that our dog groomer/dog sitter was living with a child sex offender. We assumed she didn’t know and called her. She did know and was full of explanations, excuses what have you. My family is prominent in our community through my spouses who had an elected position and we just knew we couldn’t use her anymore as long as she was involved with him. It was very upsetting to her and to us but it felt like we had no choice. These are things to keep in the back of your mind.

    1. Blue Anne*

      For this type of offense, the records that google turns up are generally public listings by law enforcement. Being marked on public information easily accessible is part of the conviction.

      1. SpaceNovice*

        Yup. There are even sites where you can see their residences on the map if the information has been entered.

        1. nonegiven*

          My husband got identity monitoring from a government data breach. Our town is so small every time one of those sex offenders moves, he gets an email about it.

    2. Important Moi*

      No one is disagreeing. The internet may not be completely accurate at all times. Verifying with law enforcement is a good idea.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I 100% could not do business (or associate at all) with someone who supported someone who was convicted of acts against children. If “sex offender” turned out to be “he was drunk, had to go to the bathroom, did so in public, and exposed himself” that’s one thing. Or “he had a girlfriend who was 15 when he was 18 and her parents didn’t like it, and the acceptable age difference in their state was two years.” But pedophilia? Absolutely not.

    4. Ali G*

      Agreed – definitely talk to the police first to make sure the info you have is correct. Who knows, maybe he is in violation of probation (you say he’s missed court appointed meetings) and your decision maybe made for you.
      If you verify the info is correct I would definitely talk to her about it. She’s in possession of client materials and he’s already proven he’s not trustworthy. You may not be able to control who she dates, but you definitely can control what access he has to your confidential information and your other employees.

    5. Myrin*

      How does one verify such things with law enforcement? Do you just call or drop by the local police station, present your case, and they will confirm or deny for you? It can’t be that simple, right? (Then again, as far as I know, you can’t simply look up someone’s criminal background online in my country, either, so I assume this is a different process in the US altogether.)

      1. Important Moi*

        In my jurisdiction, you go the records department of law enforcement and ask by name or case number. You could probably do it by phone or through the website of the law enforcement agency. Unless a case has been sealed by the courts, arrest records, convictions and the like are “public” information.

      2. sunny-dee*

        You can here. Most arrest records and virtually all court records are public documents. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re available online (some places post them, some don’t), but if show up at a courthouse and pay something like a $25 processing fee, you can get all criminal records for a person for that county. You don’t even need to do that if the records are online or if the case was salacious enough to make it into the local news.

      3. SarahTheEntwife*

        Whether or not someone has been convicted of a crime is (for adults) almost always public record in the US. I’m not sure how cooperative police departments are about random people calling and asking for records, but it’s data the public does in theory have access to.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s actually pretty easy to verify criminal information for someone who is convicted of a sex crime and appears on a registry. You can either verify through your state’s sex offender registry or the federal equivalent, both of which are available online and were created to make it easy for people to identify convicted sex offenders (there’s a long history about the constitutionality of those databases, but the courts have upheld them as lawful). Sometimes a police department will also have an online public database that can be searched. You can find criminal conviction information online, also, through proprietary databases; e.g., I can do it easily as an attorney but generally do not.

        You can also always call the records department at the local police department (or the police department for the jurisdiction in which the person was convicted). Criminal convictions are considered public records in most states and are not difficult to obtain/verify.

        1. Definitely Anonymous*

          I had to verify information with law enforcement and am not an attorney (or anything else that would give me access). I simply called the police department, gave them a 1 sentence summary of what was happening, and asked them my questions. They were very helpful and even provided advice where they were legally able to do so.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh, I apologize! I meant that the proprietary databases tend to be profession-specific (although there are proprietary databases that are available to bounty hunters, private investigators, etc.). You’re absolutely correct that the general public, regardless of one’s job, is also allowed to request information, and in many cases, the police department will comply if the request falls within lawful parameters.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Secondly, I would assume she doesn’t know.

      I would assume she does know but her boyfriend is giving her some twisted version of what happened instead of what really happened.

    7. Agenda*

      I don’t know about this. On the surface, it seems like the appropriate thing to do, confirm the information. On the other hand, some commenters have already pointed out that LW’s employee would think LW was “snooping” and while I agree that if it is a matter of public record it is not snooping, I also think that it might complicate the conversation with the employee if LW has contacted authorities to obtain information beyond that which is easily accessible public information.

      1. Important Moi*

        In the context of this thread, contacting the authorities is how you get accurate public information.

    8. Anon for this*

      I agree that you had no choice. One of the meetup groups that I am a member of had this happen. The organizers found out that a member had a child sex offender record, and made a choice not to tell anyone. Well the information eventually came out anyway, there was a scandal, a lot of people left the group, someone left and formed a new group and poached half of the members, all around it was a disaster that went on for a good half of a year. This group does a good deal of social/charity work and is active around a specific cause, and I imagine that the cause (which I also support very strongly) had a lot of damage done to it by all of that happening. The organizers sent out a public apology to anyone, saying that they had not thought it through, and that they should have told the people the moment they found out, and should’ve likely asked the sex offender member to leave at the same time. (He ended up leaving when the news broke out. There was no way he could have stayed in the group after that.) If a meetup group almost shut down over this, I agree that a business would absolutely suffer.

      To your second point, I assume she either does not know at all, or he explained it away to her (“I was framed” and so forth) in a compelling enough way that she believed him. Whichever the case is, I like your advice to approach this from a place of concern.

      1. No offense, but...*

        I sent the dude who was violent with me to jail. He had a previous record that was explained away with all the usual misinformation and outraged claims of wronged innocence.
        He hooked up with the gal he had been grooming while I tried to extricate him from my life, and told her the same tales of victimization at my hands that he told me about his previous ex. A total smear campaign.
        Six months later the gal contacted me for help. Dude was in jail for some kind of violence and she was terrified about what he would do to her upon release. I offered what help I could, including going to the protective order hearing if needed. I never heard back from her, but a few follow-up googlings showed more convictions for the same kind of crimes.
        TL;dr – Offenders can really put on a dramatic victim act and if their current target doesn’t want to know, they won’t know, until something bad happens. Don’t let fear of reaction deter you from acting to protect yourself and others who might be at risk.

  9. Detective Amy Santiago*

    My initial reaction is ‘yes, of course, tell her’.

    But be prepared that she may know and not care. And by bringing it up as an issue, you could damage the working relationship irreparably and/or lose her as an employee.

    1. Technical_Kitty*

      If she knows and doesn’t care, does it really matter if the working relationship is damaged? LW has a business, other employees (who may or may not be his victim “type”) and customers to think about, she’s not there to be a support system to someone making a problematic decision.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That’s for the LW to decide.

        It wouldn’t matter to me. The OP may feel differently.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Honestly, I think that’s a worthwhile risk. If she does get in a huff and quit, then you no longer have to worry about him having access to client information because she brings it home and has him work on it with her (!!!)

    3. Emmie*

      Boundaries are necessary in this situation. OP has an obligation to her clients, her employees, and her business reputation. I do not have a perfect response to the employee, but I suggest building off of this: I was uncomfortable the last time your boyfriend came into the office, and later discovered that he is a convicted sex offender. Are you aware of this? [Frankly, it doesn’t matter. If she is aware, she will likely make excuses or be defensive.] I need to balance our client’s and employee’s safety and data. Tell her that you understand her perspective. [Even if you do not.] It’s caused me to evaluate some of my boundaries at work with our employees. Moving forward:
      1. Your boyfriend is not allowed at company events, or in the office. I’m creating an official policy that no significant others can be at company events, or in the office also because we need to focus on clients during work hours.
      2. You cannot take client data home. I am aware that you took home client marketing data. Even without your boyfriend’s sex offender conviction, this is problematic on its own. We must never allow any other person access to private client information including names and addresses. (I would actually write her up for this if you have any policies.)
      You should also inform other employees of these rules because there are larger reasons for it. I am sure others could come up with better language.

      1. Frankie*

        This is probably where I’d end up…knowing it’s a really uncomfortable conversation and you might not salvage the employee relationship if she defends him. Still think it’s the only thing to do.

        I might also put some safety precautions in place…you don’t know if this situation is abusive but the company might become a target of his.

      2. ExcelJedi*

        I mostly agree with the idea if not the tone (and I couldn’t wordsmith it any better than you did!), but I think banning all SOs from events because one is known to be a problem is pretty extreme. I wouldn’t change the office culture because of this. These circumstances are extenuating, and as a result the rules should be different for this case – not all cases.

      3. Amber T*

        For point one – honestly, I wouldn’t create a blanket rule that no significant others are invited to company events (assuming that had previously been the norm). “Given your partner’s criminal history and sex offender status, he is not invited to company events or allowed on company property.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, this. There are times where we get reminded we represent the company first and foremost and we have no choice but to do what is right for the company. This is one of those times.

          OP, there is a way of speaking where you can say things in a thoughtful manner with consideration for the listener and still get your points across.
          I know it’s easy to get tense in these conversations. One tip I have used is to repeatedly is to double check myself to MAKE absolutely sure I listening when the other person speaks. (Tension seems to effect hearing.) This will help with consideration and thoughtfulness because it puts you responding to what the person actually said, not what you THOUGHT they said. You might have to repeat back a statement, “So you are saying he is a twin and their mom gave them the same name?” This also buys you a moment to figure out what the heck you are going to do with the inputs you are getting. [On this terrible example, I would say, “Okay this is news to me. I am going to have to speak with the big boss or HR in light of what you have told me.” If you suddenly realize you are getting in deeper and deeper, stop the conversation. Tell her that you will have to come back to the discussion after talking with your boss or HR. ]

          Small consolation, but only about 5% of the difficult conversations I have had, turned into what I feared. Most of the difficult conversations, melted down into a very manageable situation. I gave an example of telling an employee the same message, up thread a ways. She thanked me profusely, as she honestly did not know. She immediately made plans to disconnect from the offender. And she thanked me for having the brass to say it to her face and not let the rumor mill churn. What I thought was going to be difficult turned into a simple conversation with immediate results. You may or may not get immediate results. Your situation may settle in a week or two. Or it could end up being a dragged out thing, unfortunately,we have no way to know.
          My best advice is if you move forward, let someone else know what you are doing before you do it. This could be your boss, HR, whatever.

  10. Important Moi*

    I, too, would tell her what you found without conveying judgement that she was hiding something from you. She may not have known. She and you can jointly decide where to go from there.

  11. BRR*

    This is a toughie. I’m leaning towards putting safeguards in place for your business and that will also alert your employee if she doesn’t know.

    1. BRR*

      Hit submit too soon. This way you’re not overstepping into her personal life. I strongly try to stay on the side of not punishing people in perpetuity, but these are reasonable rules for the crime this person has committed and that they have failed treatment.

    2. Bagpuss*

      This would be my approach.

      Letting the employee know that she must not take work-related stiff home and that her partner is not welcome on the premises or at any work-sponsored events are reasonable steps to take to protect your other employees, clients and guests.

      I’d frame it being inappropriate to take client/customer/staff information home, or to share it with someone who is not a member of staff, and make clear that that would not be appropriate no matter who her partner was. (and if you don’t already have policies in place, make some so that other staff know not to do this. Here it would be a definite data protection breach, and a disciplinary matter for the person who did it.

      I think that you can then go on to explain that also, in light of her partner’s criminal history, for the safety of staff and customers and the reputation of your business you can’t have him on the premises or involved in any way, and that he will not be welcome at any social events.

      I’d make it clear to her that her being in a relationship is her business and doesn’t affect her job or working relationship with you.

      If she isn’t aware of his background then raising it in this way will obviously make her aware, and you can then let her know what she found.

      It may well be that she knows, and she may seek to minimise it (he wrongly accused / it was all exaggerated) If so, don’t get into an argument, simply reiterate that he is not to be allowed onto your premises or to any company events, and that that is non-negotiable.

      1. MsAlex*

        (I love the typo ‘work-related stiff’ – my imagination came up with all sorts of things that would apply to. ‘Frankenstein, I told you before about not bringing your work home!’)

    3. Another Person*

      At the very least I think the letter writer should stop everyone from taking clients’/customers’ personal information Home. He/she does not need to be worrying about who has access to that stuff when people are out of the office. Dodgy roommate, friends, whatever. Keep sensitive work information in the office, please.

  12. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    He’s a paedophile and a sex offender. He set off your alarms before you even knew. He has no remorse and no interest in changing. Do whatever it takes to protect yourself , customers and employees. Limit her access to information, at the very least. This goes beyond worrying about professional actions, this is about people’s very lives. If your employee doesn’t care, this is a massive problem. Remember that women can be paedophiles and sex offenders too.

    And get support before taking action. You don’t have to take this on alone. Tell people in your life and don’t be alone with him (or her, if you feel she’s a threat: you know the situation best). Other people here will have more advice on how to protect yourself legally.

    I can’t imagine how sickened you must feel, and commend you for writing in and asking for help. Too many people would look the other way. But please take action. People like this destroy lives.

  13. Reinhardt*

    Yikes! If I were you, I’d sit down with this employee and say you became concerned when you learned he’d had access to your company’s confidential information (the names and addresses) and so you Googled him. Present what you found, and state that because of it she absolutely must keep information like that confidential. Come at it from the perspective of ‘if these people found out who had access to their info, they’d freak out and we’d lose business’. Focus on the business reasons to avoid her getting defensive about it. If she was aware already, she’s obviously okay with it and would probably get defensive. If she wasn’t aware, she is now, but shouldn’t feel like you’re judging her for who she dates if you come at it from a business perspective. Especially since there would almost certainly be negative consequences for the business if people learned a convicted sex offender had gotten access to their names and addresses.

    Good luck! Please write back in to Alison with an update when there is one

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I would generally not advocate for lying, but in this situation, I feel like this suggestion might be a better course of action than outright saying you ‘got a weird feeling about him’.

    2. CJH*

      I think this is an excellent strategy. If she does know about his past, she will likely make excuses. The best option is to make this about confidentiality, the success of the business, and a requirement for keeping her job.

      I would probably also make sure all employees are reminded about the importance of confidentiality, and that outside consultations should be run by you first.

    3. Nita*

      Wow. Totally missed the part where she took marketing materials home. I would absolutely tell her, and ASAP. For all I know, he may be using her to get access to this data. Or to someone in her family.

    4. MissCPA*

      and I’d add to this that if OP doesn’t already, speak with a lawyer about creating a confidentiality agreement and have all employees present and future sign it!

    5. Will!*

      I support taking this advice! It has the potential to remove the personal element entirely, and even if the reason for googling is slightly implausible, that’s sure to be overshadowed by the sex offender stuff.

      There’s still the possibility of “ew that’s so creepy that you googled my boyfriend,” but there’s no way around that.

    6. Armchair Analyst*

      This is actually a really great approach. Focus on the ROI – Return on Investment, Reaction of Information, keep it business and professional.

    7. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

      Completely agree! I think telling your employee “I googled your boyfriend because he gave me a weird feeling” would immediately make her defensive. While it is terrible what you found out, you can’t pry into her personal life. Letting her know you are looking out for your business should be the main priority even though you also want to help her.

    8. Anonymeece*

      I really, really like this approach. I think the key here is that the OP wants to keep professional boundaries, and this lets her approach a personal matter from a professional standpoint, which will keep her boundaries in place. It also has the best results no matter if said employee already knows or if she doesn’t. If she does, then she can’t redirect the conversation (you’re addressing confidentiality and optics, not her personal life), and if she doesn’t, then you can be a bit softer and explain what you found from a more sympathetic standpoint. I would be prepared for either, quite honestly. I have met quite a few people who have known about pedophiles, but made excuses for them (“It was a mistake”, “he’s changed”, “his ex-wife made that up to get custody”, etc).

      OP, I’ve read through all the answers on here, and I think Reinhardt’s is the best bet. I would also echo something from down below that it would be good to verify the information completely before having this conversation, but the beauty of this also is that you don’t necessarily *have* to.

      Best of luck, and I do hope for an update too!

  14. EBStarr*

    “I just found out last night (from another employee) that she took home some marketing material to work on and she had her boyfriend help her with it. The material had name and address only, but now I am concerned he may become “interested” in someone and decide to introduce himself.”

    “Only” name and address?! If she was sharing the names and addresses of customers without permission with *anyone*, I would think there should be disciplinary action automatically no matter who the boyfriend is. Do you not have policies in place to restrict what kind of personal information is shared with non-employees? If you work in an insurance office — even if it’s just, like, home insurance! — you really should!

    It’s probably a good idea to *always* treat personal information as carefully as if your employees might have a chronic sex offender in their family. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write…)

    1. Murphy*

      Yeah, I was thinking he shouldn’t have been looking at name/address info regardless of the situation.

      But I’m not sure what kind of marketing material it was. If it was like stuffing envelopes or something, I could see why someone might take that home and get help, and why that might be viewed innocently in other circumstances.

      1. Nita*

        What if it was the kind of marketing where they’re targeting the materials to a specific group of people? Let’s say it’s life insurance, which is often recommended to parents of young children. Frankly, the more I think about it, the more I’m horrified that this has happened.

        And I don’t see why OP needs to worry about passing easily searchable public information to her employee. It’s not confidential. It’s the further measures that may need input from an HR professional or lawyer – such as, how to put measures in place to keep the employee from taking info home, and what to do if the employee does it anyway.

    2. Anon for this*

      This is probably a violation of federal privacy laws and the OP needs to put a stop to it (sex offender issues notwithstanding.) If her state insurance regulator found out about it, OP could find her insurance license in trouble. In fact, she may be required to disclose the breach not only to the state but to the individuals’ whose information was compromised.

    3. Roscoe*

      Yeah, I will say, sex offender or not, this is a problem. This is something that could be addressed completely separately of his sex offender status

    4. Zillah*

      Yeah, this to me actually raises the most alarm bells, because there’s no situation in which it’s acceptable to bring home work like this – especially with people’s personal info! – to get your partner’s help on it without your manager’s permission. Like… it doesn’t matter whether he’s lied to her about his past, it shows incredibly bad judgment on her part.

    5. Nea*

      This is the angle I’d take, because it doesn’t go into the touchy area of googling someone who gave you bad vibes. Instead, it’s a simple and direct work issue – employee took work home (is that allowed?) and therefore exposed personal information to a non-employee (which is a huge NO NO NO for any company.) Once personal information was leaked, the company is ethically, (if not legally), liable regardless of whether it was exposed to a criminal who wants to attack family children or try to sell midlevel marketing stuff to the addressee.

      And you can address it as the lapse it is with the employee without getting into the weeds of her personal life.

    6. Thlayli*

      This! Why is this not the first comment!!

      The much much much bigger issue is that your employee showed name and address info of your customers to someone who doesn’t work for your company. That’s got to be illegal! IANAL but I’m 100% sure this is illegal in the EU, in America, who knows. But it’s definitely unethical.

      You need to contact your legal department ASAP and tell them that there is a chance one of your employees showed customer data to a registered sex offender and ask for their help in figuring out what to do. You need to be up front and honest with this as it’s potentially a major violation of industry ethics.

      I imagine the response will go something like:
      1 first find out if it’s true – did Jane actually show this info to her bf. Find out which data was compromised in this way.
      2 A list of affected customers will probably have to be drawn up and they may have to be informed. I would sure as hell want to know if some idiot employee of my insurance company showed my name and address to a convicted stalker (I’m hoping there was no info pertaining to children here – if so your areas child protection agency may need to be contacted also).
      3 find out did Jane know he was a convicted sex offender when she showed him this info – and if so she probably needs to be fired. Showing names and addresses to a convicted stalker is such an obviously bad idea that she can’t really hide behind “Theres no rule against it/ I didn’t know the rule”. I’m hoping she didn’t realise he was a convicted sex abuser and stalker though – in which case you are doing her a favour by telling her.
      4 your entire team needs retraining on your data privacy rules (or your company’s lax data privacy rules need to be completely overhauled).

      1. Saskia*


        I am also incredibly concerned about this data breach and the legal implications for LW’s business, which is in a separate category from my concern for the wellbeing of LW’s employee.

        If LW is hesistant to pay the upfront costs for legal advice, they should consider the potential cost of not seeking advice & the fallout from that.

    7. lulu*

      This is completely unprofessional regardless of who the boyfriend is. I would have a talk with her based on that alone. Then also mention what you know about his background. She has make it your business who he is the moment she 1) brought you to her place of work and especially 2) had him work on company files!

  15. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

    You have the right to ban anyone you want from company events. Having such good reasons only makes it a more firm decision, and since that makes sense to do, then it only follows that you would need to inform your employee. I would frame it as work-related, not personal. You’re not alerting her of a problem with her boyfriend, you’re alerting her that, due to company-related reasons, you cannot allow someone with his criminal history on company grounds or near private information.

    I think by depersonalizing it and making it about work, you’ll remove some of the feelings of over-stepping you might have. It doesn’t matter if she knows or not IF the reason you address it is work related instead of personal.

  16. This Daydreamer*

    I think you have to protect the safety and privacy of your customers, which also means you have to talk to your employee.

    The outings thing seems more complicated to me, assuming that they take place on someone else’s property. I don’t think you have any reason to invite him, but I don’t know if you can ban him.

    1. Rae*

      If he is on the sex offenders list, he may not be allowed on properties that are X distance from a school, etc.

    2. Antilles*

      In general, they probably can ban him but how they do it depends on the location:
      >If it’s at an employee’s house, that employee denies him entry and calls the cops if he refuses to leave.
      >If it’s a private business (e.g., bowling night, restaurant, etc), they can ask the venue to ban him and after explaining the reason, the venue would likely ask him to leave.
      >If it’s in a public place (e.g., picnic at a park)…well, then it’s tricky because he technically has a legal right to be there since it’s public property*. But if he is harassing others, then he could (and would) be removed by the police.
      *Presuming he isn’t banned from parks due to the terms of the probation/sentence/etc imposed by the judge.

    3. Random Obsessions*

      Even if the events take place on someone else’s property, many sex offenders have restrictions that not only ban them from being certain distances from where their preferred targets hang out as Rae said. They also usually have restrictions on whether they can hang out with certain classes of people (usually children but can also be extended to other vulnerable populations). *If* OP’s employee invites their boyfriend to a company event where these populations are going to be (e.g. children) and they know their boyfriend is not supposed to be around these people then they are complicit in letting the boyfriend violate legal restrictions which does not speak well to the employee’s judgement.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Well, you can ban him from *your* events. You may not be able to prevent him from being in the same location, but you don’t have to invite him. And I would guess that you can tell your employees that inviting or encouraging him (or anyone you declare to be Persona non Grata) would be a disciplinary matter.
      (And if necessary, if you run open events then you can add a caveat to the publicity material saying you reserve the right to refuse access or require any attendee to leave, at your absolute discretion)

    5. Totally Minnie*

      I don’t think it matters if OP can legally prevent the boyfriend from showing up at company sponsored social events. What needs to be made clear to the employee is that the boyfriend is not invited to any future events, and that if he appears at one it will result in disciplinary action for the employee.

  17. Amarie3*

    Yikes. I would talk to her, but I would be sure to make it about you and the choices you’re going to make, and not about judging her. Something like “I found this information, and I’ll be taking some steps to protect the company and our employees, families and clients. This includes making a rule about keeping clients’ personal information confidential (which she should really be doing anyway) and not allowing Boyfriend to family events.” Based on how she reacts, you could also offer additional personal support, but only if she seems receptive. And there’s always putting up informational flowers about where to seek support forv domestic violence issues. Good luck!

  18. Dawn*

    I think that you should proceed cautiously, however, I also think you need to make sure whatever you do is done in an upright, open, and most of all legal way.

    What I mean by that is the last thing you want to do is appear to start, or be involved in, what can be perceived as a “witch hunt.” Presumably, the boyfriend, as creepy as he comes across and as terrible as his actions have been, has completed his court-mandated punishment for his crimes and has been released back into society. As personally reprehensible as you or anyone else might find this, the facts are as of right now he’s a free man.

    Before you do ANYTHING, if you haven’t already, speak with a lawyer about this to know what your rights are as an employer and what paths forward you have. The last thing you want to do is end up in a situation where this employee can build a case of “I was singled out and not afforded the same perks as other employees because my employer didn’t approve of my choice of boyfriend.” After discussion with the lawyer then you can decide what avenue you’d like to take as to how to deal with this.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      It’s pretty reasonable to view a “free man” and a “free man with a serious criminal record” as different; I don’t think that’s a witch hunt.

    2. Ali G*

      But he hasn’t completed his punishment. The LW states that “He has failed to complete treatment twice.”

      1. Yorick*

        Failing to complete court-mandated treatment has consequences, so if he’s not currently incarcerated we can assume he’s meeting all the conditions that the courts have given him.

        1. sunny-dee*

          All not incarcerated means is not incarcerated. He could be out on bail, on probation, wearing a monitoring bracelet, on parole, in out-patient treatment, or under other restrictions like not being within 500 feet of a school or something. The OP doesn’t say. And the only way to assume he’s meeting all conditions is to assume that the criminal justice system is 100% perfect at tracking him — which the multiple treatment failures would indicate they are not.

          1. Bea*

            I’m slightly hyperventilating thinking about him being on a monitoring program. 20/20 just exposed that sham of a program.

          2. Yorick*

            He’s either off paper or his PO/judge are ok with him being on supervision (unless he’s currently on trial/being charged, which I think OP would’ve mentioned). We can’t say he “didn’t complete his punishment” and I think OP’s conversations with Sansa should come from a place of believing in second chances (even if she’s skeptical).

            I don’t think it’s a witch hunt to be concerned about him having access to customer data and such, but you want to be careful that Sansa doesn’t feel like it’s a witch hunt. I mean, even if you don’t mind her quitting, it wouldn’t be right to make her feel targeted over this.

            1. sunny-dee*

              Well, except she is being targeted over this, in a sense. She gave names and addresses of dozens, possibly more, clients to a convicted sex offender. Like, this entire discussion exists because she did that. If she hadn’t done that (or if he weren’t a sex offender was just, like, a nerdy accountant), this wouldn’t be an issue or would be a very different issue.

              It’s counter-productive for her to be attacked, but that wasn’t the OP’s tone at all. Second chances are COMPLETELY irrelevant here. He could be a perfect choir boy — doesn’t matter. This is only about giving personal, private information to someone with a shady past. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if he has a stack of reference letters from the president and the pope and his mother. He shouldn’t have access to client data, period.

              1. Yorick*

                I meant she shouldn’t be made to feel bad over her relationship. She didn’t do anything wrong here, and she may not have even known about his record. OP doesn’t seem judgmental about the employee here, but should be aware of tone in the conversation because the employee may take it that way.

                If Sansa’s behavior in taking that work home was inappropriate (and I think it was), that behavior should be the focus.

                And let’s remember this DIDN’T come up because Sansa took work home. OP’s googling him was not related to that. And OP’s letter’s isn’t focused on only the customer data, so it’s not really accurate to say this would only be about that.

                1. sunny-dee*

                  The issue is really the same to me. It’s a progression. She found out the guy was a sex offender and started worrying about future / hypothetical events like company events where this man would normally been invited and could, conceivably, have access to other employees or customers. That is a concern. Then she found out that Sansa had concretely given this guy access to customer data. Not the most sensitive data ever, but still — access to customer data. That moved it from hypothetical worry to real and immediate worry. And the issue is either that Sansa didn’t know, in which case she needs to know why there are going to be some different boundaries put in place, or that she did know, and knowingly gave customer addresses to a sex offender, which is just such an insane lapse of judgment and one I would seriously considering firing her over. But it’s the same issue, it just moved from hypothetical to real.

                  BTW, taking work home isn’t a problem because most WFH policies still include some kind of awareness of protecting company data. The problem is that Sansa not only didn’t protect but actively shared customer data with a felon. Two problems.

                  That’s where I say it would be a different issue than if someone else had been involved. It would be wrong if Sansa’s mother had been helping her, but not the same level as wrong (and therefore very much not the same discussion) as this.

                2. Mad Baggins*

                  “the issue is either that Sansa didn’t know, in which case she needs to know why there are going to be some different boundaries put in place, or that she did know, and knowingly gave customer addresses to a sex offender, which is just such an insane lapse of judgment and one I would seriously considering firing her over.”

        2. Aveline*

          ” if he’s not currently incarcerated we can assume he’s meeting all the conditions that the courts have given him.”

          Not true. I’ve had many cases in dependency (i.e., child abuse, neglect, foster care) where the parent was a defendant in a criminal case and not meeting the conditions of the court order in the criminal case. Sometimes it can take years for the system to lock someone up.

    3. Antilles*

      The last thing you want to do is end up in a situation where this employee can build a case of “I was singled out and not afforded the same perks as other employees because my employer didn’t approve of my choice of boyfriend.”
      The employee can argue that all they want, but legally, I don’t see how it matters. There’s no general laws against discriminating against convicted criminals, unless there’s something specific to your state (California?) or municipality.
      Your employer absolutely can deny you perks, career advancement, or even straight up fire you for who you choose to associate with. We can argue about whether it’s right or wrong to punish someone for their boyfriend, but I don’t really see that there’s anything legally actionable here.

    4. Observer*

      In addition to what the others have said, in the US association with someone with a criminal record is not protected.

      The whole “paid his debt to society” is a red herring. The issue for the OP is whether this person is likely to harm someone directly, and whether the association could harm the business. The answer to the second half is an unequivocal yes. The answer to the former is “very, very likely”. Given that reality, it’s perfectly reasonable to take some self protective measures.

    5. Frankie*

      How could taking reasonable safety precautions against a sex offender be reasonably construed as a “witch hunt”?

  19. Technical_Kitty*

    Tell her. Keep it professional, outline how you don’t want him to have access to any records, that his pedophilia is a major concern and you will not be exposing anyone in your company, or associated with it, to him.

    You might want to go slowly with her, but I’d say get it all out in the same meeting. If she doesn’t know, she needs to, and if she does know or will continue seeing him, she needs to understand the limits on his involvement.

  20. Ann O. Nymous*

    Given the nature of his crimes, absolutely tell her. You cannot have this guy around sensitive material or other employees/their families. It’s likely you’ll lose his girlfriend as an employee, but I think it’s imperative you put your client info and your other employees first.

  21. Les G*

    Do you really think your employee doesn’t know she lives with a registered sex offender? That she doesn’t have access to Google? Don’t insult her agency and intelligence.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I hardly think it’s insulting someone’s agency or intelligence to assume they may not know about a significant other’s criminal past. Some people are more trusting than others.

    2. Murphy*

      I didn’t get the impression that they necessarily lived together. They might, but it says her “new” boyfriend.

    3. Louise*

      Don’t sex offenders have to disclose their status before they move anywhere? I agree that I’d be surprised if she doesn’t know, but I definitely think OP can and should put up safeguards to protect the company.

      1. Yorick*

        Not all sex offenders. It depends on the state laws, but in some states there are different levels (based on severity) that have different restrictions.

      2. AKchic*

        Many sex offenders don’t disclose and they bank on “trust” to keep themselves from being outed. They expect their families and friends to not say anything because the friends and family either enable the offender in some way and/or expect the offender to disclose (“it’s his story to tell, not ours”). The offender will hope that the new paramour doesn’t background check, and if they do, they will use gaslighting and guilt-tripping techniques to attempt to make the person feel bad for doing so (“what, you don’t trust me?” “this is why I didn’t disclose this sooner” “it’s so hard to find a real connection with the stigma of my bogus crime. I pled out/accepted the charges because I didn’t want to put the poor girl through the agony of testifying even though she got the wrong guy”) (Please note: I have heard all of these things before, and more, both from my ex-husband who is a serial DV abuser and unconvicted sex offender and other offenders that I worked with during my career).

    4. The Original K.*

      She may not. Not everyone does due diligence and some people are good liars. I’ve known people who have discovered major secrets about people they were in relationships with (other families, being AWOL from the military, HUGE amounts of debt, and yes, criminal convictions).

      1. anon for this*

        I actually found out my husband was an alcoholic almost 6 months after we were married. I had never seen him take a drink before, much less appear to be intoxicated. I was definitely naïve, but if people lie, they just lie. Sometimes you believe them and if you trust them, you’re not looking for reasons not to trust them.

        1. The Original K.*

          I’ve known people in similar situations (although the truth came out before marriage). It was usually because the addict was sober when the person met them and “had it under control,” so they felt there was no need to say anything.

      2. Alternative Person*

        This. An ex-coworker of mine married her long term boyfriend of 6+ years and divorced him less than two years later as it turned out he had concealed a lot of debt from her. She thought she had done her due diligence but even with the best will in the world, some things are difficult to uncover if the other party is working hard to hide it.

        It may not have even occurred to the worker in the letter to google the guy, especially if the relationship is relatively new. If she hadn’t taken the materials home and the manager hadn’t followed up, it wouldn’t be on the table now.

      3. Another Person*

        I came here to say the same – she really might not know.

        My husband’s former coworker married a guy like this – by all accounts she was completely taken by surprise when he was arrested for stalking a teenage girl at her daughter’s high school and did not have any idea he had been arrested for something similar long before they met.

        She is a manager with a graduate level degree – not someone you would expect to be fooled like that.

    5. Anon Today*

      Honestly, it wouldn’t shock me if she didn’t know. Or she may know he’s on the offender list, but he may have lied to her about the nature of the offense. For example, I had a friend who dated a guy who was on the sex offender list. Once she found out he was on the list (and she only googled him because her mom insisted) he lied his ass off and told her that it a Romeo and Juliet situation and that he had been 19 and his girlfriend 15. My friend had to do a lot of extra digging into the case files to determine that he was lying his ass off, and that the truth was horrendous and had involved a 8 year prison sentence (and that was the plea agreement). If she had believed the guys lies then she probably would have kept seeing him.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, an a lot of sex offenders are very manipulative and persuasive.

        I recall dealing with a case where one person involved had a relevant offence – there was quite a delay before we were able to get the appropriate court records and probation reports.

        His version of events (which was very convincing, and which his girlfriend believed wholeheartedly) was that there had been a single, isolated incident, when he was himself young and impressionable, that he had cooperated fully, that probation had been happy that he had completed all necessary work and that he presented no risk to anyone

        The reality? It wasn’t an isolated incident – there were a number of incidents but a decision was made to accept a guilty plea on a sample charge rather than put a vulnerable child through having to give evidence. Other charges were left to ‘lie on the file’

        I don’t think it is at all unusual for people to *not* google or otherwise check up on new partners.

      2. Triple Anon*

        Information on specific crimes isn’t always available unless you pay for a more in depth background check. There is a national sex offender list, but I think the details that are included vary by state. Where I live, you can only see if someone is on the list. You have to pay to get a more extensive report. The girlfriend might not be much of a Googler or he could have lied about the circumstances, as other people have pointed out.

    6. Kate 2*

      I don’t go around googling people I meet, and many people don’t. That doesn’t make us dumb or lacking in agency.

    7. MCL*

      Sure, she might know. She might not. If she doesn’t know, I think she should. Most pertinent to the work angle of the situation, the employee should also know how the company is going to handle this going forward. For example, if the company decides this guy is explicitly barred from all company events and/or the office premises (which I think they should, given his criminal history and the fact that he has already made someone uncomfortable), it’s important to tell her that and why. If the company also decides to prohibit his access to her work materials or prohibit her from taking materials off site, I think that should also be made clear. I think it’s important to be empathetic but firm. As been commented upthread, if this becomes a dangerous relationship for the employee it’s helpful to have a supportive workplace that is safe for her to be.

    8. Lisa B*

      Hm, I think the concern is less about “the employee might not know” and more of “gosh, now that *I* know, as a business owner what are my obligations to protect my other employees as well as my customers?”

    9. MLB*

      Your logic is similar to blaming a woman for getting raped because she was dressed provocatively. Abusers are master manipulators and if they haven’t been dating long, it’s possible she has no idea. Not to mention when you’re with someone new, you’re on your best behavior. Doesn’t mean she’s an idiot.

    10. Yorick*

      Many people don’t routinely google people, and I think fewer people do background checks.

      I’d guess many if not most of us didn’t do a background check on our significant others.

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        Only reason I googled my partner was because he wanted me to use my master level google-fu to see how much I could learn about him online. He tries to be low profile because of his work. Odds are he has never googled me

        1. The Original K.*

          Ha – I have a friend who has crazy Google skills, so I tag him in when I need to get deep with something. (I do Google people I’m getting involved with and look at their social, though not right away. After a few dates, I do.)

    11. Aveline*

      I’ve had plenty of mothers whose children I represented in dependency court not know the full extent of their paramour’s record.

      You assume a lot when you say people know how to google this or that they even have access to a computer.

      Where I live now, a good 25-30% of the population has no internet access in their homes.

      1. LouiseM*

        The comments today are too much!!! People trying to catch woke points like they’re freakin’ Pokemon. Someone who works in an office definitely has access to a computer. That’s not a classist assumption.

      2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        “No internet access in the home” generally means no internet line or service from an internet provider. That doesn’t mean people living there don’t have a way to go online. A huge percentage of people get their internet exclusively from their phones. So because they’re not paying comcast for a connection they’re counted as “no internet access in the home,” but they’re getting 4G coverage through their cell, and are just as connected to the internet as anyone else.

    12. Huh*

      I’ve literally never googled my partner of many years… time to google and make sure he’s not a sex offender!

      And I’m back! Hmm, he’s got a pretty common name so it wasn’t obvious, but no evidence of sex-offending. It would never occur to me to go to an actual registry and check his name, either. To be fair, he *isn’t* a sex offender, so I suppose that would increase the chances I decide I need to look, but it wouldn’t be unusual for her to think her boyfriend is a great guy. Everyone who dates a jerk thinks they’re great (at first, or forever).

      And I’ve never googled this guy I’ve known for years, I doubt I’m alone.

    13. Coffee break*

      Do people not have nosey friends, family, and colleagues anymore. My friends facebook and google check everyone any of us have ever dated.

      1. Huh*

        I’ve glanced at a facebook just to see what a friend’s new SO looks like, but I don’t google them? And it’s not like someone’s facebook would say “HEY I’M A SEX OFFENDER” at the top!

  22. Scared to leave a name*

    I agree that I too would value Alison’s input, and that leaving this to comments seems an unfinished response. Perhaps though, since this is a heavy topic it’s wise to gauge public opinion before weighing in in a more complete response?

    1. Emily S.*

      Alison commented above regarding this. It’s one of those situations that are so subjective, there’s not one right or wrong answer, and getting reader suggestions can be valuable for the LW.

      In Alison’s comment above, she clarified that he schedule makes it impossible to answer all the letters she gets. She has to choose, based on a lot of different factors. This is a perfectly valid way of handling tough letters.

    1. Bea*

      And run background checks before entering relationships. At least I did and was open about it because nobody really wants an accounting professional around that hangs out with felons. I protect my own ass personally and professionally!

      Also need to point out it’s not fool proof. My friend did her due diligence and found out the psychopath changed the spelling of his name after release so nothing came back. It wasn’t a registered offense just being a violent psychopath. Thankfully he eventually killed himself and can’t do any harm to anyone else.

      1. Close Bracket*

        I am genuinely curious how you do this. Do you go off just first and last name? Do you tell them before hand that you do background checks? Do you do them yourself? How? Or do you have a service or agency that you hire? I am really curious about the logistics of this! I would love to do background checks on the people I date before I even go on a date with them, but I usually only have a first name at that point. I wouldn’t even know how to do it, either, except to pay for one of those services on the web, and I have no idea whether those are even legit.

      2. Close Bracket*

        Oh, forgot to mention, one person who’s full name I did know before I went on an actual date with turned out to be a state legislator who was penalized for anger management issues and had domestic violence charges against him! We already had a date scheduled, and I canceled the crap out of that.

  23. Juli G.*

    I think you can talk to her about it but yes, it will be “construed in a negative way”. There’s no way around it. You were creeped out by her boyfriend, Googled him, and now you’re worried he’ll use your company info to identify new victims. It’d be hard to even deliver that neutrally.

    The only way it might be positive is if she didn’t know, something I find highly unlikely. You found out a lot of info from a simple Google search.

    Again, you need to protect yourself, your business and your employees so a discussion is the right thing but just be very realistic that odds are it will be messy.

  24. deeshy*

    Disclaimer: This is a bit triggering, so I apologize if I’m all over the place in my answer.

    Agreeing with IL Jim – you need to let her know what you know. On the off chance she has no idea about his past…we’ll, then that turns into a different conversation. Don’t wait to do this, the sooner you address it, the better for you.

    Working in an insurance office, I’m sure you are continually exposed to sensitive information about insureds, companies, brokerages, etc.; and the various responsibilities you have to make sure you are in compliance with handling said information. Someone is is closely affiliated with someone who has been twice convicted and spent time in jail, is an exposure you cannot ignore in favour of someone’s feelings.

    You may need to reach out to a lawyer or whatever HR you have for guidance and document, document, document everything. Dates, times, occurrences, happenings, etc., this will be helpful in the long run to help moderate yourself and the situation.

    This could also turn into a self-extinguishing problem – once your employee knows you know, she may look for work elsewhere.

    Best of luck.

    1. TootsNYC*

      This could also turn into a self-extinguishing problem – once your employee knows you know, she may look for work elsewhere.

      Or she might dump him!

      Win, win.

          1. Scott*

            That she’s choosing to associate and share private client information with a convicted pedophile. To me, that gives her no credibility and she’s no longer deserving of trust with that information.

            1. Huh*

              Eh, frankly, LOTS of people make stupid relationship decisions… this falls into that more than anything. Sure, he’s got a more defined reason he sucks, but lots of people stay with shitty/terrible/abusive partners cause they’re blinded by love goggles (and all the other terrible things these relationships have). I feel as if not trusting her judgement is the same thing as not trust someone who stays with an abusive partner… or at least so close that it feels unfair.

              So many people make bad relationship decisions that questioning their professional judgement at the same time is a bit unfair. I think sharing the information IN GENERAL deserves criticism, but the fact that they picked a shitty partner isn’t that unique of a trait.

              1. Scott*

                This isn’t a shitty partner or a bad decision. It’s a convicted pedophile. This is NOT the same thing as staying with a normal abuser. They should be treated as the scourge of society, and anyone who chooses to associate with them. When it comes to children, there can be no excuse.

                You said it yourself, that she could be blinded by love goggles, and therefore continue to put the clients’ information and children at risk.

            2. Kate*

              I agree it’s one thing to date someone you don’t know is a jerk or a cheater, but a whole other ball game to date someone one that you didn’t bother to check and he turns into someone that has been to prison for pedophile/stalking/sexual harassment.

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            Taking work home when she shouldn’t have. Just that single fact, alone. Data privacy is a big, big, BIG deal. It’s a bigger deal in Europe, but the US is catching up fast.

  25. Chriama*

    When someone presents a risk to others, they lose the right for impartial treatment. That’s my opinion. I would strictly tell the employee that company information stays at the company (quite frankly any identifying customer information should be shared with non-employees no matter who they are so that’s already a strike) and tell her that he is not allowed at any company events where kids may be present, and if he wants to come to other events you will need to disclose his convictions ahead of time. (Or maybe just ban him from all company events? I’m not sure).

    Now as to whether to preemptively disclose to your employees… I’m not sure. I sort of feel like it depends on how close your office is. If they’re just acquaintances then maybe not, but I do worry about what happens if he does strike up a meeting with someone by identifying himself as coworker’s boyfriend, and ends up accosting them. I would weigh your thoughts about the likelihood of such an occurrence.

  26. DaniCalifornia*

    I’d be 1,000% sure it’s him before saying anything. And 1,000% sure of his actual charges verses convictions, jail time, etc. It sounds like you’ve done your searching and I know there are lots of things that are public knowledge. But if there is even a tiny chance there’s a mix up, you could ruin someone’s life.

    I would consult a lawyer before confronting your attorney. There was a recent thread on reddit about a neighbor wanting to out a sex offender neighbor to the neighborhood and while she had the right to do it, there were legal concerns about how they did and what information was included. It’s always good to make sure you are doing everything by the letter of the law.

    I think if you tell her, it should come from a place of concern. And I think whether she knows or not, if she makes excuses, how she reacts will all tell you what you need to do next. Whether that’s restrict access to the building, work documents, not allowed to work from home, etc.

    And document everything.

  27. irritable vowel*

    You got curious and googled this guy because he gave you a bad vibe, which produced some publicly available information. I think it would be overstepping to share this with your coworker, and I think it’s a big assumption to think she isn’t already aware of it. Maybe she’s a sex addict, too; maybe she’s helping him with his recovery; maybe she doesn’t care; maybe she doesn’t know. There are plenty of people around you every day who have criminal backgrounds that you don’t know about (either because you haven’t looked them up or they haven’t actually been charged/convicted). It sounds like he has “paid his debt to society” for the crimes he was convicted of. I think as far as I would go would be to tell her that she shouldn’t be sharing client information with people who don’t work for your organization.

    1. Kate 2*

      He’s a sex offender and a PEDOPHILE who has failed rehab twice and claims to be a sex addict. Repeat sex offenders are extremely likely to re-offend.

    2. anon for this*

      And that may be a great argument if he were applying for a job (although it wouldn’t be, because certain convictions pretty much bar you from certain jobs regardless of the “debt to society”).

      But in this case you have an employee sharing potentially compromising client data with a convicted felon and sex offender. That’s not a “debt to society” issue, that’s a business / company reputation issue and a client safety issue. It’s a professional matter at that point, and should be dealt with accordingly. ‘

      Look at it like this — would you want a convicted embezzler working at a bank even if they had served their full prison term? Would you feel comfortable with a convicted robber hanging around with his bank teller girlfriend, sitting by the open tills, after hours while she finished a count?

    3. Huh*

      >and I think it’s a big assumption to think she isn’t already aware of it

      I think we can’t know either way. I had never googled my partner until this thread, and I know I’m not alone in that regard!

    4. LouiseM*

      I agree with you completely. These comments are amazingly punitive and strange coming from a group that loves to pat itself on the back for being woke. If we reminded the commenters what a disproportionate percentage of black men have felony convictions, they would be falling all over themselves to decry the injustice that so many of these men find themselves permanently unemployable. And rightfully so! But a woman who is dating a felon deserves to be fired from her job (one person literally suggested making up a reason). I’m convinced some of these commenters have rotten hearts.

      1. Temperance*

        “Rotten hearts”? It’s more like they want to protect themselves, their customers, and their children from a sexual predator, FFS.

        This woman has given confidential client information to a convicted rapist. That’s amazingly not okay.

      2. Mad Baggins*

        I’m really surprised you’re siding with the pedophile on this one. This is not “employee is dating a black man arrested for drug possession,” this is “employee is dating a serial child-rapist and giving him client information.”

        Also please stop attacking other commenters. “Rotten hearts” was very unkind and not like you.

        1. LouiseM*

          I’m not at all surprised that people are interpreting me saying this woman should not be permanently unemployed because of her association with this guy as me siding with a pedophile. This is a very AAM style of reading. Disgusting.

  28. CatCat*

    I think you better be dead on that you have the right guy before you do anything.

    But if you are dead on, yes, I would first discuss a plan with superiors. “Sansa’s boyfriend, Joffrey, has a criminal record for sex offenses and stalking. I looked into this further and found from court records that he stated he is a sex addict and that he has failed treatment twice. Given his past pattern of behavior, I want to take steps to ensure our employees and customers are safe. Accordingly, I suggest that we prohibit Sansa from taking customer information home and prohibit Joffrey from attending company outings.”

    If that sounds good to the others, relay the decision in a matter-of-fact way to Sansa.

    However, even if your superiors don’t want to take those steps with respect to the company, I would still let Sansa know what I had found out. Because what if she doesn’t know. If she doesn’t know, it’s incredibly relevant information for her to know. If she does know, you’re just telling her something she already knows and that’s that. (You are not telling her what she should do… just what it is that you know.)

    1. MLB*

      HR was my first thought, but she runs the company and only has 2 employees. I would probably contact a lawyer before I spoke to her though, to protect myself.

  29. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    “I just found out last night (from another employee) that she took home some marketing material to work on and she had her boyfriend help her with it.”

    In my organisation (not in the US), with the kinds of data we handle, that would be a sackable offence even if the boyfriend wasn’t a convicted sex offender…

    OP, you can’t tell this woman not to date this man. All you can do, matter of factly, is ensure that he is not present on company premises, not present at company events, and has no access to any company data. As a manager, you have a responsibility to your other staff members (and their families, in the case of company events?) and your customers (in the case of data) to ensure they’re not exposed to risk from this man.

    1. Huh*

      Yeah, this is probably what I’d do. Make it clear sharing data is not acceptable in general, and explain that due to his history, he is not at company events/premises/etc. Keep it short.

  30. Workfromhome*

    1. You need to vet that this information is accurate. I had to have my registry check when I volunteered go to a higher level because an offender was the same age and birthday as me and it threw up a flag.

    If the information is accurate I would definitely bring it it up. Its not a matter that you are telling this person “your boyfriend is a sex offender. If you didn’t know you should”

    It would be framed as “At XYZ company we deal with personal private information we have to protect. If there is a risk a sex offender could access this info we need to take steps to prevent it. Your boyfriend is a VERIFIED sex offender (you may want to expand on h0ow you verified it) so we need to take the following steps to prevent access. Also we have to respect the rights of our staff and not put them in situations where they would have to interact with an offender if they do not wish to. That means no office visits or attending staff functions.

    Who you date is your own business. This doesn’t impact your standing here or the work you do. this is strictly about limiting access to an offender to our office and information.

    1. Roscoe*

      I agree. The one thing that becomes a bit tough though is the question came up of “So do you make it a habit of googling everyone’s significant others?” Because OP probably doesn’t. She got weird vibes from this guy because he happened to be in the office. But who knows who other people are dating.

      1. Yvette*

        There was a person up-thread who suggested the white lie of saying that the LW Googled the person AFTER finding out that he had been exposed to client information, that, coupled with making absolutely sure it was the same person who came up in the Google search (others have brought up the very real possibility of someone else with the same name, etc) should make it appear less intrusive/uncomfortable (for lack of a better way of putting it).

        However if LW finds out that the Google info was somehow incorrect, the actions of keeping client information private should be addressed.

  31. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*


    I think it is fair to instate a policy of keeping constituent data – even just names – to the office. I wouldn’t present it as “I can’t trust your creepy boyfriend,” I’d just say it’s a privacy/security issue that’s been on your mind and you feel that’s the best course of action. Hopefully your employee(s) would respect that.

    As for the issue of whether she knows, I would not assume that she doesn’t. I’m not sure whether talking to her is the right course of action – I keep going back and forth between “if she’s already found a way to justify him to herself, she’ll get defensive” and “but what if she doesn’t know.” Someone wiser will have better advice on that, I’m sure, but just keep in mind that if she does already know, and she perceives a “boss vs. boyfriend” choice, she is unlikely to side with you.

    This is a tough one, OP. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      To be clear, your employee’s (potential) defensiveness is not a reason to take steps to not have him around – employee and constituent safety is paramount here. I’m more stuck on whether and how to address it directly with Sansa.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        And after a few more minutes’ thought I think I come down on the side of speaking with Sansa directly. You may complicate the professional relationship or lose her as an employee, but I think the risks of trying to keep it quiet are pretty big, and if she doesn’t know his history then she absolutely should be made aware. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking the risk of staying silent if she may not know her SO has a history of sexual violence.

    2. Anon Today*

      I think this is good advice. And I do think if this employee knows that she’s managed to find a way to justify it to herself. I also don’t think it’s inappropriate to tell her that her boyfriend isn’t allowed on the organization’s premises. And to be honest, depending on the type of work that the organization does, knowingly having a registered sex offender around might become an issue.

  32. Catwoman*

    I think you should have a conversation with your employee, but be sure to frame it as concern for her on a personal level and concern for your business as you are in a public-facing role. Be very matter-of-fact and clearly inform her if you decide to ban her boyfriend from the premises and future work functions as well as the consequences for violating this policy if you decide to enact it.

    As far as her taking home the marketing materials to work on, I don’t think you have much ground to stand on at the moment (as name and address are not confidential information), BUT I think it would be wise of you institute a new policy of no customer information leaves the office. If you find out that she took home work materials after enacting this policy, then you have grounds for discipline. It was not a wise decision for your employee to make in the first place, but it’s not so egregious that she should be reprimanded without a clear policy against this in place.

    My hunch is that she probably does know, particularly if they’ve been together for awhile. If so, she’s rationalized it and made her decision. All you can do is let her know of the consequences for her decision with regards to her employment.

    1. Catwoman*

      Before I get piled on for saying that names and addresses are not confidential information, I will concede that a customer list of her business may be considered confidential but once a name is known, the address is not confidential. That’s publicly available information. (Which is why I think it would be shaky grounds on which to discipline.)

      1. Catwoman*

        Bottom line–not good judgement, but I can see both sides and the employee having some grounds stating that it was an “innocent” lapse in judgement.

      2. This Daydreamer*

        Actually, addresses are pretty often kept out of those databases. DV, stalking, being on a jury, any number of things can lead someone to keep their address out of public view.

    2. Observer*

      I don’t think you have much ground to stand on at the moment (as name and address are not confidential information),

      Incorrect on three counts.

      1. Name and address is considered “personally identifiable information”.

      2. And employer is well within their rights to forbid sharing ANY information about clients (including who is a client) with anyone outside of the firm. And the employer is well within their rights to expect staff to understand this. Not a firing offense the first time, but a serious lapse of judgement.

      3. From a technical point of view, it wouldn’t matter if this were totally innocuous (which it is NOT). The employer has a right to expect employees to know certain things. Of course, that’s usually a stupid idea, but an employer CAN do that. And in a case of client information, I do not think it’s a stretch to think that someone should know better.

      Also, I think that the only framing the OP should have is for the business.

      1. Catwoman*

        I absolutely agree with your points, but the problem is that the employer does not seem to have a clearly defined policy against sharing information. I think the employee should have known better, but I am siding with OP on the *only* names and addresses. I definitely encourage OP to establish a clear policy classifying this information as confidential from this point forward and forbidding employees from sharing.

      1. Catwoman*

        In my field (higher ed), directory information, i.e. name and address, can be disclosed (IT IS NOT ENCOURAGED!) which is what I’m basing my judgement off of. So if I was supervising someone who did this, I would absolutely inform them that it wasn’t appropriate to share that information, but it doesn’t seem to me like there would be legal grounds to throw the book at them. Also, I’m not a lawyer. I will concede that it may be protected data in other contexts.

        I think the important point is that we all agree that it should not have been disclosed and the OP needs to enact a clear policy against it.

  33. Cheesesticks and Pretzels*

    Speak to your lawyer and ask what if any safeguards you can put into place to protect your business. This employee and her relationship with a convicted felon that has been convicted of stalking etc. could ruin your business.

    Once you receive direction from your lawyer on how to proceed, then you can outline expectations for this employee as to how they are to handle customer information, keeping it only in the office, etc.

    Understandably on a personal note, you want to look out for your employee but your first obligation is to your business and livelihood. Your employee having a boyfriend like this with the potential to get a hold of client information and using it could really muck things up.

    1. Observer*

      what if any safeguards you can put into place to protect your business.

      Are you seriously suggesting that the OP has limited rights to protect their business?! There is no question that the OP can do things like fire the employee, forbid the employee from taking work home, forbid the BF from coming onto company property etc. (Perhaps in Nevada the OP might not be able to fire her, because employment is not at will there.)

      In short, none of the things that the OP could legitimately do to protect the business are questionable.

      1. Bea*

        And being involved with felons isn’t a protected class, etc.

        Montana would probably even allow for the release of a contract but you’d probably need a code of conduct clause I’d think.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        You’re thinking of Montana, I think.

        But lawyers are helpful anyway. You don’t know whether this person has a contract, is in a union, or would be protected by a local law restricting use of criminal records etc.

        (That’s assuming the OP would want to fire or discipline her, but I’m not sure how that would help.)

      3. Yorick*

        A lawyer may be able to identify steps you can take to protect customers and employees, and what your obligations surrounding that are, as well as what you’re allowed to do regarding the employee.

  34. Observer*

    You have two separate issues.

    One is that your employee took home client information and shared it. That’s a total no-no, even if her BF were a perfect saint. So, you need to put a stop to that NOW.

    The second problem is that you found information that indicates that the BF is bad news. First, makes sure that your information is accurate (ie dependable source and the correct person.) If it is, you need to not allow him on your premises or nor to attend any company events.

  35. Anonym*

    Do consider the data privacy aspect of the situation as well. If you’re in the US or EU (and many other places as well), name and address are Personally Identifiable Information and subject to fairly stringent protections. The need for PII data security may help reinforce any decision you make to restrict working with this sort of data outside the office.

    1. Lilly*

      Seconding this. You need to sort out protocol for PII – this should never be available to third parties.

    2. LilySparrow*

      Absolutely. How many other emoyees are taking client info home and not keeping it secured from third parties? How can you be 100 percent sure that none of their spouses, housemates, or relatives pose a risk? The potential for ID theft or burglary is far greater than the potential for stalking or assault.

  36. Let's Talk About Splett*

    I’m in a related industry and just bringing home info with client names & addresses is a disciplinable offense whether we show it to anyone who may or may not have a criminal, so at the very least that should not be happening.

  37. McWib*

    1. Don’t tell your employee you know her creepy boyfriend is a convicted pedophile. Odds are, she already knows, esp. if his record comes up in a Google search.

    2. Do tell your employee not to allow her boyfriend to work on her projects. You hired her to do the job, not him. You can frame it as wanting to keep company business confidential (even if it’s not high-level stuff). It would be better to frame it as a privacy/business thing rather than “I’m afraid your creepy boyfriend will offend against one of our clients” — assuming this is a valid concern (we don’t have enough info, really–does he actually pick victims at random?), she will be super defensive and probably ignore the request because she clearly thinks he’s a good enough guy to date.

    3. What kind of company outings are we talking? His demeanor is unsettling enough that you were squicked by him based on a couple glances he gave you. Based on the creepy factor, he shouldn’t be at client lunches/dinners or anything requiring close social contact, but I don’t know how you can’t exclude him without excluding all the other SOs w/o offending your employee, who will probably figure out why Creepy Boyfriend and only Creepy Boyfriend is persona non grata. But maybe restricting company outings to employees and clients only isn’t a bad thing?

    1. aebhel*

      I think you absolutely can exclude him from company outings without excluding all other SOs who aren’t convicted sex offenders. I don’t see that it’s any different from excluding an SO who has a history of behaving inappropriately in other ways

        1. Murphy*

          She doesn’t, but I don’t think she’s obligated to ignore what she already knows in the name of fairness.

          1. Colette*

            I don’t think she’s obligated to ignore it – but I also think that banning him can give the illusion of safety, while there is no indication that’s the case. Assuming the company events don’t include children, I’m also not convinced that having him there is high risk given the nature of his crimes.

          2. Aveline*

            Not just fairness. Liability.

            Just imagine what would happen if boyfriend assaults a child at a company picnic.

            Even if there were no civil case, the PR alone would be horrendous.

            This is all PUBLIC INFORMATION.

            As long as she doesn’t say “X is a pedophile” but instead says “I found this online about X and his criminal charges” she’s probably ok.

            There’s no libel or slander in that case. She’s stating facts that are objectively true and of which she has personal knowledge.

            There’s no invasion of his privacy b/c it’s all public record.

            Looking at this as a lawyer who doesn’t do this area of law, I don’t see any issues with showing the employee print outs of what she found and banning the boyfriend from the facility.

            1. Aveline*

              Personal knowledge = what’s available on the internet.
              Not personal knowledge = if he is really a pedophile

              1. don't be like that*

                gross. people don’t aren’t just casually convicted of being pedophiles.

              2. aebhel*

                She knows he was convicted in a court of law, and sex offenses historically have a pretty low rate of conviction. She’s allowed to act on the knowledge of that conviction without being rules-lawyered with ‘the only way you could REALLY know he was a sexual predator is if you personally observed him assaulting someone.’ That’s an arbitrary and impossible standard that, oddly enough, we don’t seem to apply to any other kind of crime.

                If he’d been convicted of burglary, I doubt anyone would be hopping on this thread with ‘but you don’t REALLY KNOW that he’s a thief’, is what I’m saying.

            2. Colette*

              What happens if another employee’s SO, who the OP hasn’t googled but who has a similar record, assaults a child at a company picnic?

              I mean, I think it’s reasonable to ban him from events that include children – but the OP didn’t mention ever having events that include children.

              1. aebhel*

                That’s not really the same thing? You’re basically saying that OP shouldn’t act on information she knows to be true just because there could be information she doesn’t know about other peoples’ SO’s. That’s illogical.

                There’s a difference between ‘[X], whose record of assaulting people I knew about but ignored, assaulted someone at an event that I was hosting’ and ‘[Y], whose record I was not aware of, assaulted someone at said event’.

                Nobody is acting with perfect information, but that doesn’t obligate people to ignore the information they do have.

    2. Yorick*

      I think if you ban him from company outings (which is a perfectly fine decision to make, imo), you should tell the employee why.

  38. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    “I feel awkward bringing this up, but I am morally obligated to warn you. You may not know this, but your boyfriend [information about his record that you’ve verified]?”

    From there:

    Employee: Oh my God!
    You: Here are some resources I looked up. I can’t tell you how to handle this, but you have my support. If you want, I will do what I can to help you find ways to break off contact safely.

    Employee: List of excuses for my sex offender boyfriend.
    You: Sex offenders are not welcome at our workplace. We pride ourselves on being a safe work environment and a responsible member of our community. If you bring or allow sex-offender-boyfriend on company property, you’re fired. I’m putting this in writing. [Puts it in writing.]

    Also, this should go without saying, but when you work from home, you are to complete work yourself and keep company information confidential. Nobody else should be helping you with this or accessing our internal documents.

    Addendum to B:

    I can’t be your moral compass or determine the risks you are willing to run for yourself. But if this guy abuses a child because of your negligence or complicity, I will testify to this interaction and let the jury know that you were warned but chose to give this person access to vulnerable people. I’m writing down notes on our conversation and keeping them on file. If I see him around a kid or a teen, I’m calling the cops.

    (This is a little spicy and maybe not what you want to go with, but I feel rather strongly about this.)

    1. Colette*

      I really don’t think the employee should be held responsible for her boyfriend abusing a child (assuming she’s not deliberately putting him in charge of a child). That’s unreasonable.

      1. Yorick*

        This script says “if he abuses someone because of your negligence,” in which case she would be held responsible for the abuse.

          1. Yorick*

            Well, I agree that script’s probably not necessary, unless they work with children or something.

          2. Kathy*

            If she brings him to a company outing despite already knowing this where employees are allowed to bring their families, including children. If he ends up showing up at one of their client’s houses because he was helping the employee with confidential information and sexually assaults one of their children. She’s not his keeper, this is true, but if she knows and she still does things like that, then… yeah, that’s on her.

            1. Colette*

              There’s no indication that there are any events with children. And I’m not sure why he’d be more likely to show up at someone’s house because he saw their name and address. It’s a safe bet that a lot of houses have people living in them, and that those people have names.

              1. Kathy*

                Yes, tons of houses already have people living in them, but say this is a car insurance company and people are listing their 16-year-old children on the insurance policy. Sure, he could go around observing a neighborhood to see which houses had kids, but since the employee had him helping her with some marketing stuff with names and addresses, now he can narrow it down. He could figure it out without that info, and yes, who’s to say he wouldn’t have gotten there eventually, but now she’s unwittingly made it so much easier for him.

                As for the first part, the OP references company outings. At places I’ve worked, most of those outings are family friendly, so I just assumed.

          3. HarvestKaleSlaw*

            This happens so often. These women who let their known abuser boyfriends babysit their kids or their nieces or bring them around families without a warning or let them chill out at their home daycare they run.

            It’s really common.

    2. Leave it to Beaver*

      Moral obligations are a slippery slope. While it justifies difficult conversations like this one, it also equally forces ones own belief system onto someone else.

    3. Marthooh*

      Re. the last paragraph: Employee is not in charge of her boyfriend’s actions. Her employer can’t tell her to babysit him.

    4. Louise*

      Even if she does rattle off a bunch of excuses for him, there’s still the potential that she’s at risk of abuse herself. I’d worry that saying you’d testify against her would have the detrimental affect of making her more scared to reach out for help if she ever needed it.

  39. TodayAnon*

    I have a different opinion than most of what’s been said. I don’t think I would tell her unless it directly related to your or her work. She may already know about this, or there may be extenuating circumstances involved that you don’t know about. And you don’t know whether it will happen again or not; people can change or not engage in these behaviours in the future. Safeguard where you can, but I don’t think it’s your place to say anything.

    **And to be clear, I think what he’s apparently been convicted of is abhorrent, but I also believe people deserve a second chance. If he hasn’t completed his sentence, then it will catch up with him and take him out of the picture anyway.**

    1. This Daydreamer*

      Since he has already been given access to customer information, I think the LW has to step in to make sure that never happens again.

      1. TodayAnon*

        I see that as a separate issue, though, that could be dealt with as a data privacy work-related concern. And she should absolutely deal with that, and it should be the same for all employees.

  40. Rey*

    The first part of the question was how to tell your employee. Because you’re unsure if she is aware of his criminal history. It might be good to think of your meeting with her in two parts. First, establish what she already knows. If she has never known any of this, it might be good to prepared with the same sources that you found, be prepared for her to express doubts or disbelief without pushing her in the moment, and schedule a time in the next day or two to discuss further implications of that information. This will allow her time to process the information without unnecessarily delaying the second part of the meeting (implications to her employment).

    I agree with previous commenters. Now that you have the information, you need to have a frank conversation with her to establish clear expectations that he is not involved in anything to do with the company and does not have any access to any identifying information. I think documentation is important, so I would make sure it’s all written out with clear consequences detailed. Any failure to comply is immediately addressed, and a second offense results in firing. I think you need to treat this as a credible threat to yourself, your other female employee, and your customers.

    I really question whether this is something that you want to be involved in long-term. I’m thinking of the potential worst-case scenarios and I am very concerned about your safety, and the safety of your other female employee and your customers. You have a lot of decisions to make. Even if he toes the line, will you ever feel safe? Does your other employee have the right to be informed and make her own decision about whether or not to continue working in your office? (I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s privacy or make the workplace uncomfortable, but if something bad happens and you had prior knowledge that could have prevented it, privacy is the least of your worries.)

    PS. Her response may be a defining factor. If she knows and she treats her concern lightly (i.e., “he’s finished treatment and it isn’t a problem”, “it isn’t a big deal”, “you’re just picking on me”) you need to decide if that is credible or if her head is in the sand. Especially when your and other’s safety is concerned, you cannot indulge her inability to see facts.

  41. Not Maeby But Surely*

    I think this type of criminal past is quite different than others, in that giving a person a second chance/benefit of the doubt is much harder to do when the person is a sex offender. And I think that offenders have an exponentially higher obligation to prove themselves as actively recovering when they are trying to be part of society. (All this to say: my opinion would be different if the crime was something besides a sexually based offense.) If you have verified that he is a sex offender through the official registry for your locale, I think you have an obligation to inform the employee on the off chance that she doesn’t already know. I think you should try to leave out the part about why you decided to look into it, since that could come off as vindictive. (Your bf gave me the creeps so I googled him and found out he’s really a creep!) Building on a suggestion above, I might say “It has come to my attention that (boyfriend) is on the Sex Offender Registry. In case you didn’t know it already, I wanted to share that information with you. Your relationships are your business; I’m not here to make a statement about that. However, because we handle some private information about our clients, I must make it clear that you cannot take home any work which might contain names and addresses, or other identifying information.”

    As for company events that you host, I think it would be proper invite him to events where spouses or significant others are invited, but he’s on a one-strike policy. One creepy move means no more invites.

    1. Yorick*

      I think it might be equally (or more) concerning if he had, like, repeat identity theft convictions. Having accessed customers’ names and addresses would be a big problem then.

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        I agree. Identity theft would be as big of a concern if it were the crime that boyfriend committed.

    2. Audrey Puffins*

      This is great language. I do think it’s important to address the possibility that the employee might not know, but it really should be done with minimal judgement at this stage and, as ever, focusing on the business impact.

    3. Aveline*

      “I think it would be proper invite him to events where spouses or significant others are invited, but he’s on a one-strike policy”

      FYI Most state supreme courts have gotten rid of the “one-bite” rule with respect to dogs and dangerous people. If you know that someone or your pet poses a risk to others and you are in a position where you have a duty to mitigate it, it doesn’t matter if they have committed the risky act.

      The ONLY issue here is whether the state in which OP resides would impose a duty on the employer to prevent known sex offenders and pedophiles to be on their property or at their events.

      That depends on state law and upon whether or not children are present.

      So, given her knowledge, if she allows him to come to events or even on the property where she works and something happens, in my state, the company would face a massive civil suit.

      Even in states where that is not true, the PR risk is too great.

      This is simply to risky to have a one strike and you are out policy.

    4. Not Maeby But Surely*

      To clarify my opinion, the guy should definitely not be allowed at events where kids/teens would be present. If I were the OP and I had this information, I would probably make all events employee-only for the duration of the employee’s time there. Because let’s face it, once a superior approaches you about your boyfriends sex offender status, how likely are you to stay at that company?

      1. Artemesia*

        I am really appalled by the idea that everyone has to be disadvantaged so as not to have a difficult conversation and be firm with an employee. He is a pedophile; he has stalked women; he doesn’t get to socialize at your company events. So what if his partner, your employee, has hurt feelings or whatever. The idea that no one can have fun because it might bother someone dating a sex offender is ridiculous.

    5. A*

      From the letter this guy has ALREADY creeped out the OP. I don’t think OP is obligated to invite someone they find creepy at all, muchless someone they find creepy and have evidence that they have done something quite over the lines in the past (being a registered sex offender counts).
      If the dude gives them a bad vibe and there’s no legal reason OP has to include him (and I don’t think there is) then OP should go ahead and exclude him.

  42. Bea*

    I see security risks…do you run background checks on employees? If you’re working with continental docs and she’s taking them into a location and sharing them with a convicted felon…holy shit.

    I would write her up for having him help at very least. I’m also seeing the writing on the wall saying she won’t be working for you long enough to need to ban him from outtings. What a sticky mess. All my reactions are horrible knee jerk ones and am of no use.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      do you run background checks on employees?

      Would a boyfriend’s sex offender status show up in the employee’s background check?

      1. Bea*

        My thought didn’t fully form there, I apologize.

        No. It wouldn’t but if you’re vetting employees who have clear backgrounds for security purposes, you’re within rights to release them if they’re involved with criminals and convicts.

      2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I also think that if you’re running background checks on potential employees to clear them to access confidential information, it’s reasonable to expect them not to share that information with people who have not gone through a similar background check.

  43. SpaceNovice*

    Think of it this way: worst case scenarios are that she reacts badly OR she ends up being hurt or killed when you could have warned her. And definitely protect your company because guys like this are highly likely to not just stop at hurting one person if they become violent.

    The rest of this is me being absolutely paranoid from the security viewpoint; I’m paid to be like this, so I’m going to share it. It’s likely overboard, but this is a better safe than sorry scenario. Make absolutely sure that she has no access to your address or the address of your other employee so that he cannot get his hands on them. Assume he might be watching all of her devices. Have her work laptop checked for keyloggers if you’ve issued her one (by installing programs on ALL laptops to not single her out). Consider updating security plans/measures in your office. There’s a good chance you’ll be fine… but in the 5% chance you are not. These are things you should have anyway, so there’s no loss if you do them. You should be able to find resources online.

    1. Saskia*

      I agree with everything SpaceNovice has written, particularly from a preventative standpoint regarding the safety of LW and the other employee.

      I’d strongly recommend LW puts safety measures in place for the perioed immediately following when they notify Employee that:
      1. the criminal record of BF is known
      2. BF is not permitted on the premises of the business and not welcome at work functions
      3. Employee has restrictions around their use of client data (including taking it home)
      4. or Employee is fired due to their completely inappropriate use of client data.

      Due to my particular type of safety paranoia, I’d consider closing the office and relocating it in a temporary fashion if it’s at all possible to do so.

  44. AKchic*

    Discuss this with an attorney. You need to know what you are legally protected in asking of her from a work perspective, first and foremost.
    What can you, as an employer, ask and legally expect of her, in order to protect you, your other employee(s), your *clients* (and their personal information) and the company? That is how you need to frame any work-from-home and any taking-work-materials-home and squicky-boyfriend-helping-with-items-at-home issues.

    Whether she knows her boyfriend’s history or not is moot at that point. It really doesn’t matter. His leering set off warning bells the first time you met him and you were concerned enough to check him out and then discuss with an attorney his potential impact on the company. That is enough. That is due diligence. Whatever he does with her in their personal life is not your problem.
    Yes, she has a safe space should they break up. Please don’t *say* that to her because she will be defensive enough. Let the attorney do all of the checking on this boyfriend’s legal status and what his legal requirements are before banning him from family-included affairs (but yeah, I’d be wanting to ban him from family-included functions as well). If he is required to stay away, let the attorney be the one to tell her that he’s not allowed, not you. Have it all written up and put in her employee file so it is documented. If he comes with her to family functions, let *her* get written up for it (unless she tells you there is abuse and needs help? Discuss with attorney).

  45. Someone Like Me*

    Quick reminder, since it’s related to the topic:

    Sex offender laws are out of control in the United States. In the letter writer’s case, things seem pretty concrete — he’s been charged with pedophilia along with stalking, and he’s spent actual time in prison for his behavior.

    But remember that there is a growing number of people out there forced to register as sex offenders because they, for instance, were 18 and sexted nudes with their 16-year-old girlfriend or boyfriend. Or because they got caught urinating on the wrong tree at 2 a.m.

    1. Definitely anon for this*

      Thank you. I have a close relative who is on the registry (not for anything like the OP’s post), and posts like these always act like they are all Tier 3 and dangerous. Obviously this situation is different, but for people like my relative who was just dumb and naive, it makes life very hard.

    2. Observer*

      Except that this is not the case here.

      If the OP had written “the BF is on the registry, and I don’t know what for”, this would be an important point to note. But, given what the guy was convicted of, it doesn’t matter whether or not he’s on the registry.

      1. Someone Like Me*

        THANK YOU SO MUCH. I should have included some kind of qualifier like: “In the letter writer’s case, things seem pretty concrete — he’s been charged with pedophilia along with stalking, and he’s spent actual time in prison for his behavior.”

        Should have also noted somewhere that it was just a quick note related to the topic of the letter.

        I appreciate your eagle eye!!!!!!!!! A++++++ COMMENT!!!! THANKS FOR CHIMING IN!!!!!!!!

      2. sunny-dee*

        Also, just FYI — the registry lists what the person was convicted of. At least it does here in Texas, and I assume it’s similar for everyone. So you could easily tell whether it was “public exposure” or “sexual battery of a minor” from the registry. And it seems like the OP got a lot more detail even than that.

    3. Louise*

      There’s a really good episode of the Love + Radio podcast on this called A Red Dot.

      I agree that it doesn’t sound like that’s what has happened here, but the overall conversation about how we deal with sex offenders as a society could definitely use some more nuance.

    4. anon for this one*

      I strongly agree. This guy is bad news – the conviction for stalking and the failed treatmenys are concerning. But you should look at the individual circumstances of each offense, a lot of people are on the list for teen sexting or a highschool relationship parents didn’t approve of. This is especially true for LGBT people. Prosecutors tend to charge such cases more severely, and close-in-age exemptions don’t always apply to same sex relationships.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Wait–“close-in-age exemptions don’t always apply to same-sex relationships”? How can that possibly be justified? Yikes.

        1. Louise*

          I think what anon for this one is saying is that a 16 year old girl dating a 19 year old guy might get a pass because they’re close in age, while queer couples might not get the same pass because queer relationships are read (incorrectly) as more innately sexual or lascivious.

  46. medium of ballpoint*

    So here’s another aspect of the situation I haven’t seen mentioned yet: If the OP knows the offender has access to children (either his girlfriend’s or someone else) and if she’s in a state where people in her profession are mandated reporters, she may be obligated to report the situation to the authorities.

    And I’m definitely in favor of telling the employee. She may not know, or may not think it’s a big deal, and perhaps having her boss say something about it might make a difference. Best of luck, OP!

    1. Someone Like Me*

      If OP were a mandatory reporter, OP would know that. It’s not something you’re unaware of.

      I would be surprised if owners of small insurance companies were mandatory reporters in any state. Mandatory reporters are usually: teachers and other school workers, other caregivers of children (my church’s youth pastor is a mandatory reporter), medical professionals, social workers. In other words, people who routinely work with kids and have a presumed responsibility to ensure kids’ safety.

        1. Someone Like Me*

          Oof, that’s pretty ridiculous — if everyone’s a mandatory reporter, then no one is a mandatory reporter. It’s all the problems with “If you see something, say something,” but with the chance to mistakenly brand someone a child molester rather than a terrorist.

          1. sunny-dee*

            I think the idea behind that is to have some consequences for parents who a turn a blind eye to their romantic partner molesting their child.

            1. Someone Like Me*

              Hmm. I mean, that’s good, but it seems like you could write that legislation more precisely, then.

              I don’t know that much about mandatory reporting, but I know that during my brief training to teach kids at our church, our youth pastor was very specific that if we were concerned about a child being abused, we should bring it to his attention immediately and not take action ourselves. There are people who are trained to address those situations in a manner designed to ensure the accusations are legitimate and to keep the child’s well-being at the forefront throughout the process.

        2. mediumofballpoint*

          Yup. In some states all folks are mandated reporters. And a lot of smaller shops can be kind of unclear on the HIPAA/healthcare/reporting connections so while this is an unlikely scenario, it might helpful for OP just to check and be double sure.

  47. Nicole*

    Bear in mind that whatever you found out about him is public knowledge. The girlfriend may already know.

    I would tell her firmly that she is not permitted to take work home and that her boyfriend is not welcome to company outings whatsoever. She may not argue if she already knows why, and if she doesn’t, this is your opportunity to share what you’ve found with her.

    I would also make it crystal clear that sharing any client information with him is grounds for immediate, non-negotiable termination.

    The comfort and safety of you, your team, and your clients is LEAGUES higher in priority than the comfort of this disgusting pig scumbag.

  48. Cara*

    Contact a lawyer.

    1. It sounds like you are missing a whole bunch of policies that are pretty standard in large businesses (e.g., handling customer information, work-from-home practices); let this be a catalyst to put them in place.

    2. Work with the lawyer and other trained experts as needed to figure out the best approach to handle this specific situation. You don’t want to inadvertently escalate the situation for anyone, or get sued, or impact your business reputation. Have your ducks in a row before engaging your employee.

    1. Granny K*

      This right here. I would also talk to the lawyer about liability of telling this information to the other employee vs keeping it quiet. I keep thinking about the third employee potentially getting assaulted, finding out her employer KNEW about the bf’s past and not telling her.

    2. gecko*

      Yeah, even though I commented below…I think it’s worth it to talk to a lawyer before moving forward.

  49. Dragoning*

    Honestly, sex offender aside, I would ban her from working from home at a minimum. Who takes work home and has other people “help” with it? If I was a customer, that would make me deeply uncomfortable and would find it a breach of my privacy.

    If you can’t trust her to follow that rule, you should fire her for that.

    As for whether you should tell her…well. I don’t think, as her boss, you can make any statements pertaining to her relationship status requirements. She can’t be required to break up with him or anything like that to keep the job. But, yes, you can and should tell her. This affects your working relationship with her.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I just found out last night (from another employee) that she took home some marketing material to work on and she had her boyfriend help her with it.

      Yeah, honestly, this is a problem, whether the boyfriend is a sex offender or not. Why is some random person who doesn’t work for your company “helping” your employee do her work?

      1. Definitely anon for this*

        Eh, I can see it if it’s like collating or making sales kits or something. I’d probably make my boyfriend help me stuff sales folders if I had a ton to do.

        1. Audrey Puffins*

          I’ve helped my sister with some basic data entry before when she had to transcribe numbers from one laptop to another and it was easier to have me read the figures to her than constantly refocus herself.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          But there are two things to consider with getting help:

          1. Even if it’s non-confidential, you are still responsible for the quality of work. If you take stuff home to collate and you collate well but your boyfriend doesn’t, you still have to answer to your boss for the materials being all out of order.

          2. If it’s confidential material, your boyfriend should absolutely not be helping you with anything work-related.

          1. sunny-dee*

            1. … yeah, and? I mean, if the work is done poorly, it’s on you whether you’re the one who did it poorly or not.

            2. Again, that should be already defined in the employee policies — and if it’s not, it should be. But most companies, even hospitals or banks, have levels of confidentiality.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              I mean, if the work is done poorly, it’s on you whether you’re the one who did it poorly or not.

              That was precisely my point. No need to be snarky.

              Again, that should be already defined in the employee policies — and if it’s not, it should be. But most companies, even hospitals or banks, have levels of confidentiality.

              So not disagreeing here.

    2. Ms Jackie*

      My mom worked in a non profit mailing department about a decade ago. She would bring stuffing home for me to help her with. It is quite common if a non profit is doing a mass mailing and doesn’t have an auto stuffer machine.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I agree with Dragoning. Our work from home policy explicitly provides that anything work related must be kept secure and confidential, including from family/household members.
      I think it is reasonable to make clear to *both* employees that if they want to take work home, or to get extra people to assist, they need your authority in advance, and you will determine it on a case by case basis (because there might be some things where it would be fine – if you were assembling free toys to give away to customers, for instance, there would be no confidentiality issues)

    4. Erin*

      Especially insurance. People have itemized lists of their belongings in their homeowners insurance. Even if he was in prison for B&E it would be a violation of privacy policies for your company to have him view these materials. If he’s driving driving her around to take photos for your company of people’s homes he can easily use that to scope out who has kids by what’s in their yard.

  50. Colette*

    Two things.

    1) The employee shouldn’t be sharing customer information with her boyfriend, regardless of his criminal record. But I doubt that they put anyone at any particular risk, given his crimes. He’s unlikely to start going to random addresses because he saw the name of the person who lives there (unless, of course, it’s someone he knew already).

    2) The OP has no idea who else has a criminal record, nor is it reasonable for her to try to find out. Is she going to require everyone attending a workplace event to have a criminal record check? If not, she may be hosting people just as bad but who she didn’t google. I don’t think she should ban him from any employee events. Customer events and events involving children, maybe not.

    1. Observer*

      Sorry, this is just nonsense. There is never an obligation to ignore what you actually DO know because there might be something about someone else that you don’t know. There IS generally an obligation to follow up on significant information you find in a reasonable manner.

      A red flag appeared. The OP followed up on it. Now, she needs to follow up.

      1. Colette*

        So what is the specific risk she is trying to prevent by keeping him away from events with employees and their SOs?

        The thing is, if she bans him because she knows of his past, there’s the expectation that everyone else is OK to be there – and that may not be the case.

        1. sunny-dee*

          No, it’s means that she banned the person she knew is a sexual predator with multiple victims. If you don’t know about someone, you don’t know. But when you do know, you have at least some level of responsibility to act. I may not know every sexual predator in the neighborhood, but if I get informed that the guy in 13B is a child molester, I am keeping my stepson away from the guy in 13B at all costs. I wouldn’t just shrug and say, well, you can’t know everything.

          The specific risk is “known pedophile and violent stalker.” Like, the risks are child molestation or stalking innocent people. It’s not complicated.

  51. Nonsensical*

    I am really really confused here. A guy gives you a look so you google his name? I am actually a little horrified by this letter because it seems to be overstepping by far.

    The boyfriend does not work for the company. Tell the employee not to share information with the boyfriend such as you’d tell any employee. But charges are not convictions and while I am all for keeping children safe, if he is not at the office and the employee does her due due diligence by not letting him work on her work (which she shouldn’t have anyways), why is there a direct jump to assumption he will use her customer information?

    I am not sure where legal falls here but this feels such a gray zone because the sex offender is not the employee, the girlfriend is.

    1. Someone Like Me*

      He was convicted of some of these charges: “He has failed to complete treatment twice and has spent time in prison for these activities.”

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        I am curious about how she found the treatment information, haven’t seen that on sex offender websites.

    2. Roscoe*

      That is kind of where I fall. I think that, even though her suspicions were right, it comes of REALLY bad to just say “I googled your boyfriend”.

      1. Student*

        The boyfriend made her uncomfortable with non-verbal body language and facial expressions. I think the google thing is more of looking for validation that he’s behaving weird, because a lot of people are not comfortable calling out weird behavior. It’s really tough to discuss, especially when it’s non-verbal, but non-verbal behavior can be both extremely clear and very intimidating/unsettling/inappropriate.

    3. gecko*

      No, I think it’s quite reasonable–what the LW did was have an intense gut reaction saying “this guy is a predator.” She confirmed that gut reaction with research and public information. That gut reaction is crucial. While it can certainly be confounded by other factors–racism or classism for instance–LW did the right thing by looking it up further.

      It seems from the LW’s description that those charges were in fact convictions–prison time and court-mandated sex addiction treatments.

      It is up for debate what the real risk LW’s office and clients face, but this wasn’t the LW being nosy or overstepping.

      1. Gonna spend my a.m. googling*

        Right? Like it almost makes it ok because she was CORRECT in her gut. If she felt him being ‘sexually creepy’ and then googled him and found out he had credit issues or some other embarrassing but not illegal issue that in no way related to the creepy feeling that would seem like more of an overstep. But her instinct was 100% accurate. Plus there are ‘looks’ and there are “LOOKS” – if someone gives his girlfriend’s boss a LOOK then its reasonable to be concerned he would do that with clients or other employees while at events.

    4. WellRed*

      He spent time in prison, so there’s a conviction somewhere. He is on record as being a repeat offender. Also, while I may not have googled him for feeling creeped out, I believe Alison and many other advice columnists recommend the book “The Gift of Fear.” This letter illustrates that sometimes, you just know. (Or suspect.)

      I do think she needs to verify it’s the same person before doing anything.

    5. Nisie*

      Please read the Gift of Fear. I once stepped off of a subway because it was three people, one of whom was getting too close and creeping me out and I had already disclosed which station I was getting off at. I had security walk me to my car. The other woman was raped by that man and a police officer told me that he was trying to feel me out to see if I would have made a good victim.

      1. Nicole*

        What a sad story. Glad you’re okay and trusted yourself, I feel terrible for the woman he victimized instead.

      2. Louise*

        I was going to say the same thing. I think what she found actually proves that she right to trust her gut and look into it.

      3. bopper*

        Yes, read the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. Teaches you how to be safe by listening to your gut feeling. Predators succeed because you talk yourself out of it.

        1. soon 2be former fed*

          Unless your gut is based on racist tropes like all black men are criminals and give off skeevy vibes. Many heinous criminals, such as Ted Bundy, were charming and set off no alarm bells at all in the people they worked with. I personally know of someone with a felony conviction for attempted murder because he ran over my friend with a cab after raping her. He somehow managed to get a federal job and was generally thought of as a good guy by everybody but me.

          I’m amazed that so many posters assume the OP is absolutely certain that the boyfriend is the offender she found online. My husband and his son have the same name, the son had prior legal trouble that was assigned to my husband during a background check, despite the 25 year age difference and different social security number. It is not an uncommon event.

          If OP is absolutely sure that boyfriend is a sex offender, her concerns should remain work-related only. Charles Manson had women who wanted to marry him, there is simply no accounting for how some women choose men. Firing girlfriend is ridiculous overkill.

          1. Elspeth*

            Well, I’m sure that OP was able to see the boyfriend’s mugshot when she googled him.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Let’s not shame anyone for listening to their intuition that there may be more than meets the eye to someone. We have intuition for a reason.

      1. !$!$*

        I came here just to say this. I personally have had two skeevy high school teachers that I had a bad feeling about. One was arrested for trying to pick up a 14 year old (my age at the time!!) and the other one was arrested for pedophilia with his five kids and fled to another state. When they (extradited?) him to our state he said, “oh I thought the charges were dropped” LOL

  52. Boredatwork*

    OP – I think you have a duty to your customers and employees to protect them. I would sit your employee down and say that it has come to your attention, that BF is a registered sex offender. Layout what ever ground rules make sense, no taking information home, have her sign an NDA for client information and state that he will not be invited to company events.

    as a female, if I found out my personal information was in the hands of a sex offender or worse, I was at a company sponsored event with one I’d be livid. Livid enough, I’d question your judgement and pull my business.

    If he had peed on the wrong bush, or taken recovery extremely seriously, I might be more forgiving but he’s not those things.

    Also, please be careful!

  53. Ladylike*

    If he is a repeat offender who consistently fails to complete his treatment, I think any precautions that are legal would be warranted in this situation. The part about him having access to customer names and addresses sends a chill up my spine. Allison, I would love to see you weigh in on this one from the legality angle.

  54. gecko*

    I think the LW has a couple options.

    1. Strictly ban working from home, any work materials going home. You can explain it’s for security, even if it’s just names of insured or ad targets. If you think that the employee is bringing materials home because she needs to work overtime, make sure you’re setting fair deadlines and that she can go to you to adjust those deadlines. Ask that personal visitors stay outside the office.

    2. If you think it’s important, this might be a reasonable time to create an anonymous email account, without your name attached, and send an email with a note and a link to the registry entry.

    3. If you are willing to l0se this employee, I think you can talk to her, in a neutral space where you can leave her to collect herself. “I have to talk with you about a very difficult subject. I recently found your boyfriend on the sex offender registry, for very scary crimes and incomplete sex addiction treatment. I don’t know whether you knew that, and I am deeply sorry to tell you if this is the first you’re hearing about it. The reason I’m talking with you about it is, I have to be very strict that you do not bring work home since it contains names and addresses, and that I have to ask that he no longer comes by the office. Here are some numbers to call if you need. Please feel free to take the rest of the day off.”

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      No no no no no. Do not send an anonymous email with a link to the registry entry.

      Being an adult means you sometimes have to suck it up and have difficult and uncomfortable conversations.

      1. gecko*

        I shrug about this. I like to think I’d have the conversation, since the anonymous email would leave the employee wondering, who knows this about me? And I’d like to think that if it’s important, it’s important enough to talk about face to face. But I don’t think it’s the equivalent of sending “EVERYBODY thinks you SMELL” or even “psst your SO is cheating!! I know because I know!!” I think there’s a way to do it that is fairly courteous.

        But, I do think a face-to-face conversation is probably best.

  55. Anonforthis*

    I may be in the minority here, but your employee is also capable of Googling her boyfriend. If you have concerns about her working on stuff at home and asking her boyfriend for help (!!) which I think is weird even if he weren’t a sex offender, then you can definitely address those on their own merits.

    That being said, since he’s been convicted of stalking, I think you can and should have a serious conversation with her about 1. doing her own work 2. what she can and can’t work on at home and 3. keeping client and company information confidential. Those are all things that it makes sense to address with any employee, even one without a sex-offender boyfriend. She shouldn’t be asking her boyfriend to help her with her work anyway.

    Re: company outings, I don’t really see a way that you can invite significant others and ask that she not bring her boyfriend without being pretty blunt that you’re not inviting him because of what you found – and that opens a whole potential can of worms re: do you have to Google all of your employees’ SOs in case someone else has something potentially dangerous in their past?

    I have a feeling this will work itself out in that this guy will do something really shitty to your employee, and I hope you’re available for her when that happens. If you need resources on DV, stalking, or cyber-stalking, your local DV system should be able to help.

    I’d like to make a plug here – a LOT of workplace shootings and workplace violence has roots in domestic violence. You can reach out to your local domestic violence system or health and human services agency to get resources on educating employees about domestic violence, stalking, and workplace harassment. It’s a safety issue, and not just for the employee who is being abused, but for anyone who works with them.

  56. many bells down*

    Something similar happened to me once. My ex-husband sexually harasses women. A lot. To the point where he was once fired from two different jobs *on the same day* because he made female co-workers so uncomfortable.

    So one day at MY work, my boss called me into her office and told me my husband was no longer allowed on the premises. If for some reason he needed to pick me up, he was to remain in the car, in the parking lot. And she told me exactly why; the mostly-female front desk staff had registered multiple complaints about his behavior when he came into the building.

    It was certainly hard to hear. Of course his excuse was that they “misinterpreted” his “friendliness.” But it gave me some new perspective on things he did that made me uncomfortable as well. I realized that I wasn’t “overreacting” to things he swore were innocent or unintentional.

    1. Observer*

      I’m so glad he’s your EX.

      That must have been a hard time for you. But it sounds like it was also validating and liberating as well.

  57. HR Recruiter*

    Noooo! She already knows. What woman now a days doesn’t Google her new boyfriend? You’d be telling her something that I’m 99% sure she already knows, and 100% sure she’s going to be pissed at you about.

    As far as working at home-I don’t let any employee take confidential information home. What if they get in a wreck and the documents go flying. What if they have a nosy repair person working in their house? What if your other employee has a shady significant other too, you just don’t know about it.

    Her bf also should not be helping her with her work. That needs to be a performance discussion you have with her.

    As for company outings have you run a background check on everyone invited? Probably not-so plan a safe event, in a public space, no place anyone would be alone with anyone, etc. Hopefully you don’t have any events coming up soon, maybe she will break up with him before hand. Or maybe he will act unprofessionally the next time he picks her up and you can use that as a reason not to invite him.

    1. Cass*

      As a fellow HR professional I’m really disappointed in your take, but not surprised. This kind of “circumvent the difficult conversations approach” is one of the reasons people don’t like HR. As others have pointed out there are numerous reasons for the OP to have this conversation with the employer.

      And you have no way of knowing what the employee does or does not know. What is certain is that there are real repercussions to consider here (safety, legal, turnover, morale, reputation, loss of business). To overlook all of that because you don’t want to risk “pissing” her off? Nope.

      Please, please find another profession.

      1. Cass*

        *have this conversation with the employee

        Dang. I knew I left a typo in there. But seriously, find a new line of work.

      2. HR Recruiter*

        Wow how are you an HR professional. I make one comment on a blog and you attack me and tell me I basically need to be fired. You really need to find a new line of work b/c that’s exactly the type of thinking that shouldn’t be in HR. I think she absolutely needs to address the safety reasons which I mentioned. I was in a hurry so I guess I wasn’t as clear as I should have been about that. But if her employee choose to date a sex offender that’s her employee’s business. I can’t control who my employees date.

        1. Anonymeece*

          “But if her employee choose to date a sex offender that’s her employee’s business.”

          That’s the crux of the issue, though, isn’t it? The OP does not know if the employee is *choosing* to date a sex offender, or if she is *choosing* to date someone she thinks is a perfectly nice man. You asked what woman doesn’t Google people they date nowadays, and I can tell you I don’t (well… didn’t. This letter has certainly changed my mind). I’m relatively young (late 20s) and technology-savvy, but it just never occurred to me to do that before, and it might not have to the employee either.

          Just assuming she has the information, and then judging her for it, seems premature.

  58. Nicki Name*

    It’s fair to tell the employee what you found, but understand that the boyfriend will have his own version of events that makes it not his fault somehow, and that the employee may have already accepted that version.

    As for taking customer info home, definitely talk to her but do NOT make it about her boyfriend. Frame it as “Here’s how we should all handle sensitive personal information, as professionals in this field.”

  59. Its Ok To Say No*

    I have a family member who is like this man.

    My family decided to do the approach “well anyone could get the information, if they really wanted it”

    So if you werent being suspicious it was assumed you were accepting something you didnt even know you were opting into.

    OP is in a place of power to protect people; keeping their information available only to trusted people, not welcoming their presence in groups of people that are putting their trust in OP.

    Our society places alot of emphasis on making things pleasant and nonconfronational. Add in cinstant political coverage, those constant negative inyeractions wear people down. But sexual assualt, that is worth being firm, and vocally opposed. You will never know the incidents that you prevent, and we will only know a small portion of the incidents that happen.

    Passive acceptance of people that are demonstratively bad is not something I can have on my conscience.

  60. SDSMITH82*

    I am also in insurance- and the fact that she brought home information with personally identifiable information on it is just as big of an issue here (if not the biggest from a business damaging standpoint). I’ve worked for/managed in small insurance agencies, so I know that having to fire someone will be a hardship- BUT- that act alone is such a potential data breech, and E&O (errors and omissions for those not in the insurance field) issue in itself that I think you have to give her at a minimum “DO THIS AGAIN AND YOU ARE FIRED” warning. Not only should you ban her from working on any thing with client information on it from home, but I’d have a very serious talk about keeping that information as something that doesn’t leave the office. I’d make sure to do it with the other staff person, (even with a written warning to the offender) to make sure it becomes an established policy.

    IMO, She has proven that she can not be trusted, and possibly, that she can be manipulated into doing things for him. Yes, its a serious conclusion to jump too, but as a small business owner, could the OP afford the claim risk this all brings? Think about what you’d advise a business owner client to do in this situation, and take the same steps to protect yourself. Even if it means letting this person go, and having to retrain/hire/etc. The potential cost to do that is much less than the potential risk this employee poses.

    I do think that because of the legal requirements regarding licensing (at least in my state) you have grounds to ask about his record, because any possible criminal involvement on her part would result in license issues on her part.

    1. Erin*

      Is there anyway this can be the first thing everyone sees? This is great advice and very specific to OP’s field.

  61. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    In my opinion, the first issue is having this employee treat sensitive data appropriately. Even if her boyfriend were not a convicted sex offender, it is inappropriate for the employee to share this information with him. I would first talk to her about this aspect of her performance. I would then follow up on how her boyfriend made you feel when he was onsite — that was the initial trigger to research him and it is appropriate to ask her not to bring him onsite or to events. You can then explain that based on your extreme dis-ease you researched him and found his record.

  62. Cedar sage*

    It’s an awkward conversation to be sure, but there’s no way that your responsibility to protect your employee’s feelings outweighs your responsibility to protect your clients, your other employees, their friends and families, and various bystanders from the danger that this man poses to them. From what you said about his history and the creepy feeling you got from that, what he did wasn’t a one-off lapse of judgment he’s since corrected– he’s a real and present threat. Take that seriously, please. Talk to a lawyer and a psychiatrist/psychologist/social worker about what you’re getting yourself into, then take whatever action you need.

  63. Em*

    There are 3 issues here.

    The first issue is that she exposed private customer information to ANYONE. At the very least she should be warned. If it were me I would probably not allow her to work from home in the future. Tell her that you learned that she exposed private customer information, it is not acceptable, and it is a termination-level offense if it happens again. If your company has training around privacy, maybe she needs to retake it.

    The second issue is that she had someone random help her with work. This needs to be addressed separately. If she is not capable of doing the job on her own, you need to know that. Tell her that you learned that she had someone help her with a project and ask her if that is true. No matter what she says, remind her that her job is only hers and that if she needs help, she must come to either you or her coworkers within the company only.

    The third issue is that her boyfriend is a sexual predator. Decide what you need your company’s boundaries around that person to be. I think it is fair to ask him not to attend employee functions where children will be present, but I am not a lawyer. Could you ask a higher-up what they think? Or consult with a lawyer? It would also be fair to say that in light of his convictions (and please be sure that it’s him) that the company doesn’t want him on company property. Whatever the restrictions, tell her that you are aware of his past and in light of that, you are asking that she follow these rules around the company campus and events. There are some excellent scripts for that elsewhere in the comments. Do not act like you are telling her anything new.

    If he is dangerous, he might react badly to this information. Please keep local law enforcement numbers handy. You might also want to post domestic violence hotline information in the women’s restrooms. I’m not assuming that he’s violent, but it is something to consider.

    1. Shinobi*

      Yes, all of this! It’s definitely three different issues with three different solutions. The first two are complicated by her partner’s history, but they would be inappropriate no matter what. Her partner should not be doing uncompensated labor for the company without having been trained or being subject to the legal agreements that are part of your employment agreement with her.

      I think consulting a lawyer on the third issue is the best plan! They can help you find the boundary to protect your company as well as your employee’s rights.

  64. Rebecca*

    I hope the search also included a picture. Here in PA, there is a registry, complete with pictures, so even if someone’s name comes up you can verify where this person is and see a photo. I’m only bringing this up because I have a friend who has the exact same first, middle, and last name as two other men in our area. All 3 different ages, but his credit report has been affected (as in items mixed somehow) and while none of the 3 are felons, I could see if someone just googled his name and one of the 3 happened to pop up it would be easy to confuse without a photo to confirm.

  65. Akcipitrokulo*

    With working from home… tjat doesn’t need to be anything to do with what you found. Anyone who is not an employee having access to customer data is a big deal (and if you have any customers or contacts in the EU, a breach of GDPR). So that you can deal with straight off!

    The rest… it really depends, but if there are kids around I don’t think there is much of a choice.

  66. Scott*

    If it’s an issue, then let her go. She knows what she’s doing, and quite frankly, if she doesn’t, then she should, and that’s her problem. She’ll learn very quickly how seriously people take sex offenders, especially pedophiles, and she’ll never make the mistake of introducing her boyfriend to work again if she wants to continue to associate with… ~that~.

    1. Louise*

      Woah, I don’t think we should be in the business of punishing women for the actions of their partners!

      1. Scott*

        It’s not so much punishment, as it is disassociation from a pedophile. She’s chosen to associate with this person, so the company can absolutely decide they would rather not be associated with her.

        I don’t know why you brought up punishing “woman”, instead of “people”. Who you associate with can absolutely affect your professional reputation.

        1. Whit in Ohio*

          The other commentator brought up women, specifically, because women are traditionally judged for their partners actions, while men’s partners are considered irrelevant. Consider the amount of time wasted on Bill Clinton’s old scandals in 2016, vs the non-issue of Melania Trump’s past in softcore porn.

          1. Scott*

            Milania is equivalent to Bill Clinton in what world? Look at the Erik Karlson / Hoffman saga. Hoffman will get traded or maybe lose his job because his wife went on twitter and launched a hate campaign against Karlson’s stillborn baby. So I don’t buy it.

        2. Louise*

          Because hiatoeicay women have been treated (by society and the legal system) as an extension of the men around them, their fathers or husbands. Assaults against women weren’t punsished because they hurt the woman, they were punished because it damaged another man’s “property.” There’s also a really big history, that’s has many more contemporary examples as Whit in Ohio brough up, of women being told that they’re to blame for their husband’s actions/judging the character of a woman based on her husbands actions.

          So you’re unknowingly referencing a lot of ugly history by saying she should be fired because of who she’s dating.

    2. Anonymeece*

      I am really appalled by how many people on here are saying that she “should” know. I have never once thought of Googling my partner, nor any of my previous ones. I don’t have a Facebook or any other kind of media presence, which I think would be the other usual way people would find out about this sort of thing.

      Quite frankly, I think it behooves the OP to at least find out if the person knows, rather than assume she is naive, dumb, or willfully ignorant.

      I’m not sure when Googling people became not only okay, but expected, to the degree that it’s the fault of the person, but I do not like it. Will I be Googling people in the future? Not going to lie, I probably will. But it certainly isn’t some kind of character flaw to not even think of doing that.

  67. Sarah*

    I think you need to consult an attorney about what liability you have now that your employee has taken home personal information about your clients to work with someone that is a sex offender/pedofile. The attorney can let you know what you can do going forward legally to protect yourself since you are uncomfortable around this man, and what you can do to protect your other female staff. Personally I would let her go, she knows her boyfriend is a sex offender and put your business in this position. I would also let the rest of your staff know for their own safety, I don’t know if it is legal to let them know but its the right thing to do. I would feel terrible if this employee is bringing her boyfriend to dinner with my other employees and their children and then something happens.

  68. Leave it to Beaver*

    All of this raises the main question. Do you trust your employee? People make mistakes, but that doesn’t necessarily warrant a decline in trust. So, if you were to talk to her about not sharing client information with those outside the company, do you trust that she would adhere to this policy?

    If you don’t, that’s the issue. Your concern about her boyfriend, seems to be a conduit for you not being able to trust her. Sure, he sounds awful and hideous and you’re right to want to protect your company and staff from him. But that’s not completely your responsibility. You can institute policy and restrictions on a business basis. But, if you can’t trust that she will execute such things on her own personal level, then you have a problem. You will need to figure out whether there are ways to rebuild that level of trust, through performance modification, or dismiss her.

  69. Someone Like Me*

    I see so many people commenting about how weird or unacceptable it is that the boyfriend was helping the employee with the work she brought home.

    There’s certainly a lot of work that partners or spouses would have no business looking at (regardless of sex offender status), and this may fall under that category, since the letter writer says it included names and addresses.

    But she also said it was marketing materials, which — I’m a copywriter, and for brochures or mailings or other written communiques, I’ve totally asked my wife to look over stuff once in a while. She’s a talented writer too, and a capable proofreader and editor. I’ve never felt like it was out of line to ask her to look at something that was meant for public consumption within a week or so anyway.

    Again: Not to say that the employee in this case was in the right. I’m just saying I don’t think it’s that odd or at all unethical to ask a partner to look at certain kinds of work projects.

    1. Will!*

      Totally with you on copy, but name-and-address combinations are deemed Personally Identifiable Information in data handling best practices guides/some state laws, so they should be kept confidential, should be stored in a locked drawer when not in use, etc.

      Does anyone comply with that? I kind of doubt it, but inasmuch as it’s a real standard, it’s a perfectly cromulent excuse to tell your employee you found out her boyfriend’s a pedophile.

    2. Observer*

      Yes, but those marketing materials also had a list of client names and addresses. THAT’S the totally inappropriate part of it.

    3. Erin*

      There is a big difference between did I missspell Wednesday? And help me review these confidential client files.

  70. Turanga Leela*

    Don’t tell her. It is genuinely not your business. She has the same access to Google as you do. She may not care, and frankly, a lot of the information on sex offender registries and in court reports can be wrong or easy to misinterpret. (Source: I practice criminal law.)

    However, there’s a part that is your business: she’s sharing company information with him! Pull her aside and tell her you’ve heard she asked her boyfriend to help with some work. Stress that company materials, especially those containing names and addresses of contacts, are confidential and should not be shared with people outside the organization.

    You could say all of that regardless of whether the boyfriend was in a registry or not.

  71. Glomarization, Esq.*

    You need an office-wide data integrity policy that includes negative consequences for violating it. You should also check with the insurance companies that you broker for; they may have sample policies you can crib from, or they may have their own policies that you breached by allowing customer data to leave the office and be seen by a non-employee.

    You should draw up a policy that allows you to exclude non-employees and non-customers from the office for any reason or no reason which does not come into conflict with anti-discrimination laws. “He looked at me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable” is a perfectly legal reason to ban someone from your business premises.

    You should tell your employee what you’ve found out about this man. I’m actually kind of floored that this is even a question. But if you or the commentariat needs a “professional” reason other than basic humanity, then the reason is that you want to reduce your business risk of ending up losing an employee to an abusive partner at some point in the future.

    1. SDSMITH82*

      The checking with the insurance carriers is a great idea- actually- and should the soon to be former employee sue for her termination, will give you additional grounds to stand on.

      Something I forgot in my post, you need to be consulting an independent HR rep and creating/redoing your employee handbook/rules. Ask your insurance carriers if they have any they can suggest. Don’t do what my former boss did and hire a client. So many conflicts with that it wasn’t even funny (not to mention the HR Rep was totally unprofessional. She left her handwritten ledger showing what all of us make in the break room, open on that page, unattended while several of us were back there. And conducted exit interviews in the middle of an open floor, with the boss listening.)

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        To be clear, calling the insurance companies and saying “I allowed an employee to take customer data home and she inadvertently shared it with her boyfriend, so what do I do to implement a policy that stops that” might very well end LW’s business.

        1. SDSMITH82*

          Well, it depends on if the owner knew that the worker was taking things home. I’d simply use something to the effect of “i have to act on the behalf of the carriers, and they would consider this action unacceptable.”

          You can check carrier’s stances without actually notifying them, but working with them as agency partners, should a lawsuit happen, would be helpful. I witnessed this when a former coworker of mine was terminated. She stole customer information as well, and when we looped in the the carrier partners, it helped get the lawsuit against the agency thrown out of court entirely.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            You might be right. Cynically, I think LW is in a very precarious position and needs to be very, very careful how she words her next communications with the insurance companies she brokers for.

  72. NewNameForThis*

    1. Verify with law enforcement. If yes, remember:
    2. “Dating a dangerous pervert who gleefully preys in children” isn’t a protected class.
    3. Talk with a lawyer. Follow their advice which is probably:
    4. Fire her ass yesterday. This is a major reputational and safety risk.
    5. Put something in writing (have her sign it) making it clear she’s not allowed back on premises.

    1. Tangerina*

      Wait, why fire her (especially if she didn’t know his background)?! A final warning about taking home materials? Yes. But what has she done to warrant being banned herself?

      Banning the boyfriend: yes, for sure.

      1. Close Bracket*

        “But what has she done to warrant being banned herself?”

        She shared sensitive information with someone outside the company. You personally might show more leniency, but firing someone on the first offense for an offense of that nature is not unreasonable.

  73. Atalanta0jess*

    With regards to handling customer’s private information, you should be treating all of your employees as if they had sex offender boyfriends. Because you just don’t know who does and who doesn’t. (As this clearly demonstrates.) So NO ONE’s boyfriend should have access to confidential information. It’s not that you need a separate policy in place for this particular employee because you know something – the expectation for all employees would be that no one else has access to this information.

  74. TreePeople*

    This is such a straight-forward thing to me. States have online sex offender registries for exactly this reason. So why the OP looked him up is irrelevant. It’s done, and the information should be used to safeguard anyone vulnerable.

    The conversation goes like this. “I’m not sure you realize it, but it’s come to my attention that your boyfriend is on the registered sex offender list. For this reason, I want to make sure you’re aware that we’ll be unable to allow him to attend any office functions. We’ll also be reviewing our data security policies, but in the meanwhile, I ask that you don’t take any materials home that have identifying information – such as names and addresses. I’m sure you understand that it’s not a matter of judging you or him, it’s a matter of limiting company liability.”

    1. Specialist*

      This is excellent. The way you found out has no bearing on this issue whatsoever. Should your employee try to excuse him in any way she is demonstrating poor judgement. She should be informed that minimizing his convictions shows poor judgement and that she should really consider if she wishes to further convince you of her ability to make dumb decisions.

      Evaluating your information security is a fine thing to do. However, you do not have to make a global ban on something for this as a sole reason. Close personal relationship with a felon is plenty to say this particular employee can’t take anything out of the office. Your toddler colors on all the office documents or your dog ate the files are also reasons to exclude certain employees from something that is allowed for other employees.

      Same reasoning works for the employee parties. There is no reason to exclude the spouses or significant others of your other employees. They aren’t convicted pedophiles. Your employee’s right to date whomever she wants doesn’t equate with an open invitation to any of your work events.

      Ex-con is not a federally protected class. This isn’t discrimination. It is due diligence.

  75. KJDubreuil*

    This is so complicated.

    I am on the side of the manager telling the employee that she may not share client information with anyone who does not work for the business. (This should be true for all employees and if it is not already a rule, make it one now.) Tell her that her decision to allow her boyfriend to help her with her work was extremely poor judgement and because of this serious breach of trust she will no longer be permitted to work from home and may not keep any work related data or hardware at home. Also tell her that in researching any potential exposure the business may have had from her actions you found ‘this’ information about the boyfriend. Then tell her he is not permitted at the business or business events. Further give her some domestic violence resources and offer to provide support if she needs it. She may know and try to make excuses for him, she may not know and freak out. She may need support. She may quit now that she knows her manager is aware. Whatever she does is up to her.

    Some personal experience context for my comments: my neighbor’s husband and my partner’s brother are both convicted sex offenders.

    The neighbor’s husband’s crime was 40 years ago and he claims it was consensual/statutory with a barely underage girl and young adult man. I feel safe around him. My partner goes fishing with him a couple times a year and we invite him to our parties and events. I just wouldn’t let him drive one of my friend’s daughters home without warning my friend.

    The brother’s crime was recently and he is currently in jail for four years. The brother’s crime was with an eleven year old girl, he is in his late 60’s, as far as anyone knows (I didn’t attend the trial) ‘nothing much’ happened but the girl’s mother pressed charges to the full extent of the law, it was his first (known, reported) offense ever. He confessed when the mother confronted him with the police, his wife of 30 years divorced him immediately and he is in jail now. HOWEVER, he stayed at our house (not in the house, in a travel trailer nearby) awaiting arrest, trial and sentencing. Yes, he had to await arrest. He was accused, confessed and they sent him ‘home’ to await arrest which happened a few weeks later. He was actually told what day to report to the police station to be arrested. They were too busy the day of the crime to arrest him. His wife wouldn’t let him come home (as you might expect) so he needed somewhere free to stay. My partner was terrified he would commit suicide (runs in the family, his brother and his son both committed suicide years apart) and wanted us to let him stay here to show family support. I agreed EVEN THOUGH we have children visiting our home weekly. I just told him he couldn’t be here when the kids were here (he left in his car before they arrived and did not return until they were gone) and I made sure to be present with the kids 100% of the time myself.

    Then in an unrelated case, a young woman who I have been mentoring through foster care, mentally ill mother, absent father for 10 years became involved with an older man with mental health and drug/alcohol issues. She felt he needed help and tried to befriend him. When she started being scared and pulled back he began stalking her and eventually broke into her home late at night, held her at gunpoint and beat her up before shooting himself in the head as the police were closing in. He (unfortunately) lived and is horribly disabled. His family and friends are blaming the young woman for the entire situation.

    The manager should inform the employee and be sensible, direct and supportive while firmly closing the door to breaches of business security and workplace safety.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      You make a good point that almost anyone who has committed crimes of this nature is a human, and more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.
      I return here to the point that the offender did not complete the legal requirements of his sentence. To that extent, he is not currently judged to be complete and made whole by the legal system, no matter how unethical the original sentence. Unfortunately we do not have control over that aspect of this story, only to give advice to the manager of the employee.

      I am so so sorry that you seem to be surrounded by these stories and perpetrators, although your perspective shows a range of positive and negative outcomes for all. I hope for the best.

  76. Harper the Other One*

    I think the OP needs to focus on addressing this as a business concern. Yes, I know you’re probably worried for your employee – any good human would be. But you’re her boss, and you shouldn’t be intruding in her personal life.

    But you can address the business part. Number one, sketchy boyfriend or no, she shouldn’t be showing confidential information to ANYONE. That needs to be addressed totally separately from concerns about him, because it’s wouldn’t be okay if her mom or her angelic BFF had seen it either. That’s an issue that needs immediately action.

    Number two, I think it’s a good idea as some said above to ask a lawyer about implications of allowing or not allowing him at company events. Once you have that information, have a separate sit down with her to discuss that. This also provides a way to ensure she knows the information, but you can start by saying that you’ve learned that boyfriend has a criminal record and as a result he cannot do X, Y, and Z company things. (Also ask the lawyer how you should respond if she says “what record?” Just to be on the safe side.)

    But don’t start discussing her relationship with him. Lay it out that she is welcome, he is not, and leave that in her hands. And make it clear through other means that ALL employees can rely on support from the business if they’re in a bad situation so that she knows if she needs it, but don’t target her alone with that information. It’s better for you to stay businesslike on this one.

  77. Argh!*

    If children come to the place, then it’s fair to tell her he’s not welcome there and the reason. Likewise the company events.

    Otherwise, unless she has children, I don’t think I’d mention it because she may be a sex addict, too.

  78. anon4now*

    Hopefully there were pictures/mugshots confirming it was him. A generic sounding first and last name (even DOB) would be a horrible mix-up.
    Secondly…she may already know. You need to decide if your company’s reputation is worth retaining this employee.
    But personally, I would tell her. There is much more to lose by not telling her. And if she doesn’t know, you’re doing her a favor. If she does know…then your learning she has extremely poor judgement and should reconsider her employment.
    I’m a big believer of second chances (and I do believe our justice & prison system is a rigged classist business-for-profit), but pedophilia/anything concerning hurting children is unforgivable.

  79. The Cardinal*

    I suggest the OP should fire the employee immediately. IMHO, this is one of the very few instances where the potential consequences of having an employee closely involved with a third party are so serious that the typical “let’s try to be fair to the employee and take a wait and see approach” has to go out the window. OP cannot ignore her own experience in the presence of the BF and the subsequent information that was uncovered.

    As for the OP herself, she is either incredibly naive or she is aware of the BF’s past and has chosen to ignore it. In either case, it does not speak well of her judgment which only supports the idea of firing her.

    If the OP is in an “at will” state, she should simply tell her employee that her services are no longer needed, that she is eligible to file for unemployment, wish her well, and be upfront that you will be unable to serve as a reference for her – no further discussion. If the “OP” is in a state that requires her to provide an explanation, then I suggest this: “I recently became aware of some information that I did not have before we hired you and based on the concerns that I now have, your services are no longer needed. You are eligible to file for unemployment and wish you well, but I will be unable to serve as a reference for you.”

    FWIW, I’m an old guy who has been in the workplace for 40 years.

    1. The Cardinal*

      “As for the OP herself, she is either incredibly naive…” – My bad, I meant “employee” rather than “OP.”

      1. Observer*

        On what basis?

        I’m not convinced that this is the best way to handle it. But I see no basis for a law suit.

  80. Antti*

    I see two parts of this that need to be addressed, and I’m probably rehashing what a lot of other have already said.
    1. Regarding your employee, her SO should not be allowed to access client information, offender or not. It’s a breach of privacy and there are potential liability consequences in play for you.
    2. You know her SO is a repeat sex offender and is continuing to offend. It doesn’t really matter how you found out at this point (I think you were right to do what you did though), because now you know and you need to act on it.

    What I’m seeing here is that first, you need to enact some kind of policy for information security/privacy, and you need to talk to your employee about not doing this again, and definitely keep an eye on this. Second, you’re going to need to bring the SO’s status up with her. Concern is probably a good tone to use, but as much as it’s concern for her, it’s also concern for your business, since you’re going to need to disallow him from your premises and events in order to protect yourself from all the potential liability. Also, I don’t find it totally unlikely that your employee was unaware of any of this, so if that is the case you would be doing her a big kindness by making her aware, while also providing an explanation for why he is not allowed.

  81. Okie Dokie*

    Sex offender information is on the web for a specific purpose by law. It is to inform the public for their safety. It is in NO WAY invading privacy to share this information.

  82. nonprofit fun*

    OP, I believe gently talking to your employee about what you found is the right thing to do. You would not only be protecting your business, but potentially protecting her. It seems like overstepping into her personal life, but this is one of those few situations where she and others could be in danger from this guy.

    That said, make sure you’re 100% positive about what you read and perhaps even consult a lawyer as some other commenters said. Good luck!

  83. AliceW*

    As the owner of your company you absolutely have the right to decide who is and is not invited to company events and who may or may not work from home or have access to client info. Your employee may not like it and she may quit. So be it. If you felt sufficiently creeped out by one encounter with this guy, I’d protect your other employee and clients first and worry about the feelings of your employee with bad taste in men second. As the owner of your company, you don’t need to tap dance around this issue.

  84. Detective Amy Santiago*

    For all of you who are saying that it’s none of the OP’s business if her employee is dating a convicted sex offender, I leave you this quote from Madeline Albright.

    There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.

    1. Someone Like Me*

      It’s a room full of incredibly vocal men who have a lot of great advice to share! IT’S VERY BAD.

    2. Because*

      You believe that OP saying something is incontrovertible proof she’s helping. There are those who believe differently. Just because a woman disagrees with your opinion, does not mean they are being unsupportive and furthermore its hypocritical to judge women on that basis alone. In the end, this is a really hateful post on what is largely a group of people trying to help someone out. But perhaps that’s why you said it.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Ensuring that someone is making an informed decision is helping, whether you or anyone else agrees with that or not. All the people who are saying that “the information is out there and she could google him too” are the ones I’m referring to.

        1. Because*

          I’m sorry, I don’t believe in absolutes and it feels like your argument assumes a certain kind of intent or behavior that I don’t think is evident here.

      2. Student*

        She’s advocating letting the employee know what the OP now knows. It’s information! It’s up to the employee to decide what to do with it! And the OP is well within her rights to forbid people on the premise for a broad range of reasons, including that they make her uncomfortable and have no business purpose there.

        She’s NOT advocating:
        -threatening to fire the employee unless she breaks up with her boyfriend
        -enacting vigilante justice on the boyfriend
        -forbidding sex offenders from the property when they are there for an actual business purpose

        You’re being hyperbolic, in the defense of a man you don’t know who has sexually preyed on children. Against a woman who’s asking for advice specifically because this man made her uncomfortable at her place of work and may present a real threat to her client’s data, her business, her employee, and herself. For what, exactly? How many second chances (he’s had more than one!) do child molesters deserve at the expense of normal, law-abiding people?

        How many, exactly, women and children does this guy need to hurt before it’s okay to tell him he’s not welcome in a place he’s got no business being? If he were hurting men instead, would your threshold be lower?

        1. Because*

          I didn’t question what she was advocating for. I questioned her statement about those who deserve to be in hell. The OP is within her rights to do whatever she feels is best for her business, her staff (including her employee), and herself. That may mean not informing her employee about her boyfriend and there may be a variety of reasons behind that.

          I would argue that you’re being hyperbolic in assuming I meant anything beyond a direct disagreement with the statement above. You haven’t asked what I would do, so I’m not sure why you believe I’m defending the boyfriend or enabling him to hurt others.

          And that’s partially the reason I disagreed with the statement in the first place. It makes a level of assumption that has no evidence to support it. I didn’t say anything that would indicate what you assume I’m guilty of. And to be quite honest, I don’t really appreciate the effort to shame me or others into converting their own moral compass to match what others deem more appropriate. That in itself does not support women, it judges them and thereby invalidates the sentiment behind the quote.

    3. Harper the Other One*

      I have to disagree. Man or woman, I don’t think it’s a boss’s place to directly address/interfere with his/her employees personal life. I think the boss can find ways to work the criminal convictions into a professional discussion about why this guy is not welcome in her workplace, but after that, it’s up to the employee what she decides to do with that information in her personal life.

      It’s also important to note that telling someone to leave a relationship that you think is bad – no matter how bad it is – is not recommended by professionals who specialize in helping abused/manipulated partners. Offering support or expressing worries for their safety can be done by a friend, but even a friend shouldn’t say “you should leave him” because it’s more likely to shut down communication than prompt action. From a boss? Even “I’m concerned for your safety” is hard to discuss without crossing professional boundaries or infantilizing your employee.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m not sure why you think I’m suggesting that the boss get more involved than simply providing the information. I personally feel that the OP has an obligation to share what she knows in case the employee doesn’t know.

      2. Observer*

        Being a boss does not exempt or bar someone from basic human responsibility to other human beings. It’s not the boss’ place to tell her employee what to do about the relationship. But it IS her place to share the potentially life altering information she has uncovered. It is her place because it is the place of every decent human being to do this for any other human being.

    4. Aisling*

      This is a horrific statement. I thought so when I first heard it and I still think so now. I, as a woman, will help anyone that needs help or deserves help. I will help them because they need it, and not because they might be a woman. Why in the world would you advocate not helping a man, just because he’s a man? Why does gender come into the equation at all??

    5. Cornflower Blue*

      +1 to this. If you know someone’s in danger, tell them! Even if you think they know, tell them anyway! Better to repeat something unnecessarily than watch a disaster take place that you could’ve prevented.

  85. Triple Anon*

    Googling someone without a good reason would be overstepping. But LW said it was a response to this person’s behavior. She had a reason to look him up.

    So I would start there. Frame it as, “An employee brought someone to the office who had no business reason to be there and acted strangely. The person’s behavior was concerning so we looked into it and discovered that they were a repeat sex offender.”

    That’s a legitimate security concern. The main options are to terminate the employee or to talk to her about it and base your decision on that conversation. Terminating her because of her boyfriend’s actions isn’t fair. On the other hand, if you talk to her, how will you be able to tell if she’s being honest? She could say she’s no longer seeing him, he doesn’t have access to information, etc, and the truth could be quite different. So this is really hard.

    I would probably talk to her about it. If she doesn’t know, she needs to. This could be an abusive relationship. He could be lying to her. On the other hand, she is responsible for who she dates and who she brings to the office. And you have to protect the other people you do business with, both clients and other employees. I’d look for a middle ground where you can show concern for her well being while also protecting other people who this guy could endanger. And don’t feel bad about Googling him.

  86. Hiring Mgr*

    I think it’s fine to do this, and this may have been said already, but be prepared that this may not go over well with your employee, and could really fracture your relationship to the point of her quitting. That might be fine with you, but still something to consider.

  87. Barney Stinson*

    Oh, this is horrifying.

    1. Ditto to everyone who said: re-evaluate all your policies because you don’t know who else is, or is living with, a predator or other type of criminal. If this stuff should be protected, don’t let anyone haul it around or let others see it.
    2. Is there any way that OP could have gotten this information on this guy other than Googling? If there were news stories about the guy when the crimes happened, can she just say, “Hey, that name rang a bell…” and refer to those?

  88. SallyForth*

    I would consult a lawyer. Having him in contact with children when you know his background could be construed as a known risk.

      1. Coffee break*

        there is no indication that he is not, and with their being other employees the possibilities that children will come in contact with him are very probable.

  89. Anita-ita*

    What a weird and tricky situation. I feel like yes you should tell her and there is more to lose by not telling her. I’ve been listening to a lot of episodes from “My Favorite Murder” so I lean on the side of staying the f away from creeps and keeping them away. Let a security guard at your office building know.

    Please give us an update!

  90. Self employed*

    This is a very serious question. I am disappointed that Alison didn’t at least answer it herself.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I am sorry to report this, but hundreds of very serious questions go unanswered by me due to lack of time, because I sleep and so forth. See discussion above.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yes. Alison, I’m sorry all these entitled jerks keep coming into the comments to demand you do more more more for them for free, as if you weren’t already so generous and helpful and amazingly prolific.

    2. Tangerina*

      This is a very difficult one to answer. Remember: Alison is not a lawyer or HR professional, just someone with lots of valuable experience. Some things may just be outside her wheelhouse.

  91. wayward*

    Seems like a better idea to come up with general policies than to focus specifically on this guy. He’s a sex offender that you know about, but there’s no reason there couldn’t be others out there that you’re unaware of. If you don’t want registered sex offenders at company events, make a policy banning them. If you have sensitive data, either prohibit employees from taking it home without permission, or set up some procedures for protecting it.

  92. Dogmama*

    I think you do need to address this matter with her, but make the point up front that this is a matter of professional needs and not personal. You only have two employees so I don’t see why you cann’t add some restrictions to bringing work home at night and keeping client confidentiality between only you and your employees and no one else. Regardless of this particular person, having client information out for anyone else to see in your employee’s home seems like a violation of those client’s privacy to begin with.

    Try something like, “It has come to my attention that X has a sex offense record. This is easily accessible online to me and any potential client. With this in mind I am going to need to ask that you cannot in any circumstances allow him to be involved with our work. This would include any names, addresses, or personal information that our clients have provided for us. The work we provide for the client is to be managed only between our team and myself and regardless of who we are speaking about in the moment, their confidentiality has been entrusted with us and it is absolutely important that we respect this. I hope you understand that I respect you as my employee and offer any support you need but this boundary is mandatory for our business.”

  93. Shawn*

    I think you should because ultimately, it is also affecting your workplace. He’s a convicted felon and a sexual predator to boot. If she takes work home, it contains personal client information, including their address, contact info, etc. You more than likely needed a background check for this kind of work, as does she (at least I would assume since she’s taking home client info). I think she deserves the right to know. How she handles it is her own business but, I think you have the right to ask her to stop bringing him into the office and, to not allow her to take work home, given this knowledge.

    1. Shawn*

      And to add…if you ask her to stop taking work home only to later find out that she continues to do so…I’d let her go with no exceptions. It goes beyond insubordination.

  94. Bunny Girl*

    I absolutely think you need to talk with her about this. This person is dangerous. He should not have any access at all to your client’s information, your client or staff’s families, or their information. You also need to protect your other employee. Personally, if I was working somewhere and a sexual predator was allowed to come to my work place, any work activities, or any social activities that involved my work place, I would be looking for a new job the second I found out that my manager knew about it and didn’t do or say anything.

  95. Eesh*

    Kinda yucky to see some commenters suggesting OP should fire the employee now, or if the employee doesn’t immediately dump her boyfriend. Very much agreed that he sounds like a bad dude, but it’s not a stretch to imagine she’s in a bad or even abusive place with him, and a woman in a situation like that definitely doesn’t need to lose her job, too.

    Termination should certainly be on the table, pending further information (such as her response when OP talks to her about this). But there are good reasons not to cut the employee loose without knowing more.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think the people suggesting termination are doing so on the fact that she shared confidential company information with a non-employee. That, in and of itself, without any other context, would be a terminable offense in a lot of companies.

      1. Eesh*

        Eh, I see folks who are saying she should be fired because of the potential reputational damage to the company. And even the “sharing company info” justification doesn’t do it for me, since it seems like OP didn’t have any kind of policy in place against it. I think there’s a case to be made for termination; I just don’t think we have the information to make it, and I think the potential danger to the employee should be taken into account. (She may be in no danger, of course, but the stalking charge gives me pause.)

        1. animaniactoo*

          fwiw, when you work with the kind of data being described here, if you need an official policy to tell you not to do it, there’s likely an issue with your understanding of how sensitive material should be handled. That may be something that can be quickly rectified or it might be a much bigger and deeper issue.

        2. SDSMITH82*

          Citing Insurance agency standards- I am 99.9% sure every agency has some sort of stated policy (either created or as part of agency agreements with carriers) against sharing client information of ANY kind with anyone that is not staff or authorized by the insured. Again, this is an insurance agency thing- and the industry tends to be pretty cut and dry about what we can and can not share with the “public”.
          Especially in today’s world. Heck- where I work- we have to lock computers before we go to the restroom- and we aren’t an office the public just comes into. It’s that strict for most of the agencies I’ve worked for, even the smaller ones, because they tend to be more client facing.

          1. Eesh*

            That would make sense. It’s just that OP’s tone and phrasing suggest to me that clear boundaries around taking work home and letting someone else see it have not been set.

            I will confess, too, I’m a bit confused by the OP’s concern about boyfriend seeing the names and addresses. While I totally agree that client information should be kept under wraps, “Oh, this convicted sex offender saw a random person’s name on a random list and decided to go after them” just feels like kind of a leap? Like the OP is reasonably unsettled, but can’t quite specify why, and so has latched onto “he may become ‘interested’ in someone and decide to introduce himself” as the justification. I don’t know how your average pedophile operates, but this seems pretty roundabout and inefficient to me.

            1. Coffee break*

              I can’t imagine not being terrified that not only have I endangered my business but I have also put my co-workers and their families in harm’s way if I was the OP. Your right I dont know how sex offenders/pedofiles think and I doubt the OP does either but as a mother of small children Pedofiles are my deepest and darkest nightmare for my children and other people’s children. So from my point of view I can’t imagine what kind of person does not believe that the person bringing in the pedofile and letting him have access to clients and their addresses should be fired. The judgement they have isnt one I would ever want in my business or personal life.

              1. Eesh*

                We don’t actually know if the employee even knows that her boyfriend is a sex offender.

                And I have three small children of my own, but I think they’re best served by adults who think critically rather than freak out at the thought of a pedophile sex offender getting near a random list of insurance customer addresses.

                1. Coffee break*

                  I think we will have to disagree on the level of alert this puts out. I cant imagine the employee not knowing her boyfriend has been in prison, let alone multiple sexoffender/pedofile charges that is insane in this era of facebook and instagram. The thought of any pedofile having access to my address puts me on high alert. Not pitchforks and burning down the business, or beating up the employee. If I was a client and found out we wouldn’t do business with them again for their lack of judgement, and if I was an employee my children wouldn’t be back in the office, the employee would not come to my house for dinner, and I wouldn’t be staying late.

                2. Colette*

                  I’m with you, @Eesh. Names and addresses are easy to come by. There’s just no additional danger to him having that information that I can see. I agree she shouldn’t have shared it, but that’s different from it being dangerous for her to have shared it. I mean, finding an address is literally as easy as walking down the street. I can go on google and get a picture of the front of almost any building in North America, and much of the rest of the world. That’s far more dangerous than an isolated name and address. (“Oh look, there’s a trike in the front yard!”)

                3. Observer*

                  @Colette, there is actually a significant additional piece of information – the fact that they have a relationship with the agency.

                  It’s soooo easy to use that one bit of information in nefarious ways, that’s not even funny.

                  Anyone who works in insurance really should know better.

                4. SDSMITH82*

                  @Observer hit the nail on the head. Client confidentiality is one of the most critical parts of the business, especially one that is all about TRUST. By taking this work home, and sharing even these “minute” details, it’s showing she can not be trusted with the more private information.

                  That is why I am taking such a hard stance against this employee. Never mind the facts about the boyfriend, even if he didn’t have the history he does. All it takes is one person finding out one or two of those facts, and then BAM- you have a data breech on your hands.

                  There are so many reasons that we insurance agents have to be very careful about sharing information. It’s not quite as strict as HIPPA regulations, but it’s almost there. Especially in California.

                5. Eesh*

                  It’s actually not even clear that these people have a relationship with the agency — given that these were marketing materials, they could have just been prospects.

                  I’m not defending the sharing of the information. I’m just saying that either (a) this wasn’t nearly as clear a breach as you guys think it was, based on how the OP describes it themselves; or (b) the OP probably shouldn’t be running an insurance agency at all, based on how badly they’ve messed up by not making clear to their employees that they need to abide by these confidentiality rules.

                  I don’t see any middle ground here. If just sharing this material were such a clear, straightforward breach, then the boyfriend’s criminal record wouldn’t even factor in. Either the OP doesn’t recognize this (and shouldn’t be running an insurance agency) or the names and addresses involved just were not that significant.

              2. Yorick*

                You may know about someone’s past, but believe that they’ve changed (either naively believe it, or they lie convincingly to you, or you actually understand that they have indeed changed). In many jobs, the fact that someone is forgiving doesn’t translate to bad judgment.

            2. Yorick*

              Yeah, I think the general inappropriateness of customer data being accessible to non-employees is more compelling. He’s probably pretty unlikely to do something with random names and addresses.

              1. Eesh*

                I would be a lot more concerned if the letter had begun: “I own a small business that sells toys to overly trusting children who can’t resist the promise of candy or puppies…”

  96. Wednesday*

    This could be two things. First, either she knows his past and accepts him, in which case a discussion with her about it would probably be unwelcome, or, she has absolutely NO idea. I would error on the side of HELP THIS WOMAN.

    If I had unwittingly entered into a relationship with a pedophile/sex addict, then I’d want to KNOW and know ASAP (even if the news came from a boss.) Worst case, you’ve brought up a sensitive topic with someone who knows his past, and doesn’t care (which is really poor judgement on her part, and I’d be questioning her work decisions as well). Best case, you protect this woman, your office and your clients.

  97. Eleven*

    Yikes…that is a sticky wicket. This may be an unpopular opinion based on some of the responses I have seen but I cannot imagine my boss saying something to me about my romantic partner unless I brought him/her into work or to a work event and he/she acted inappropriately (or if there mere presence there was inappropriate, like some of the letters we’ve seen where people let their SO just lurk around the office until they get off work…yuck). I feel like this is overstepping. I totally see why people would want to tell and I somewhat agree…I just overwhelmingly feel that it’s not the bosses business.

    Now – the bigger issue I see that MUST be addressed immediately is this employee sharing privileged client information with someone who does not work at the company. Whether he is a criminal or not, that is inappropriate and possibly illegal (I’ve worked for a few insurance companies/financial institutions, and the good ones take client confidentiality very seriously). OP is exposing his/herself to a lot of liability by knowingly allowing his employees to do this, and in my opinion should immediately institute a client confidentiality/proprietary information policy and address this behavior with the employee.

    OP, I do not envy you in having to make this decision!

  98. animaniactoo*

    I have only skimmed other answers but here’s my basic take:

    1) As others advised, consult a lawyer just to be sure of what might get you in legal trouble to say and make absolutely sure that you have the right person.
    2) Start with the statement/question: “While my interaction with your boyfriend was very limited, it left me feeling unnerved. I did some basic looking to see if I knew him or had some other association that was bothering me. At this point, based on what I found, I need to ask if you’re aware of his legal history?”

    If she says yes, hand her a short prepared document with the highlights: “To be clear, this is the history you’re aware of?”

    If she says yes again, this becomes relatively simple in approach “For the protection of our clients and other employees, I need you to understand that he cannot be involved in any company events or business at this time. That means he has no access to any of the work you are doing at any time. We deal with sensitive information that includes clients’ full names and addresses and while it would be an issue for anyone outside of the company to have access to that information, it is particularly an issue for him to have it.

    What I need to know now is if you can and will carry out preventing his access to your work, and be able to deal with him not being included in company events that would normally be open to employees’ families? Please think about it and respond to me about this in an hour or so after you’ve had time to consider all that it means for you.”

    If she says no, she doesn’t know – hand her the short prepared document listing the highlights. Let her know that it is easy to find on Google and that you encourage her to do her own search. In the meantime, please make sure that he does not have any access to company information at all. You understand that she’ll need some time to digest this and you’ll talk to her tomorrow about what limitations will have to be put into place due to his history. Also give her the number for a dv hotline. Tell her that while it is entirely up to her, you suggest she calls them for advice before discussing anything with him.

    Don’t weigh in on the advisability of her dating him or concern for her beyond a basic redirect to resources she can use if she needs help. Limit yourself to how his association with the company needs to be handled. She has to take the rest from there. Don’t suggest that she break up with him, but if she says she is going to or wants to, be prepared to list what you can offer from the company as support given his stalking history – no access to the building. No phone calls put through to her. Escort to her car if you can arrange it. Etc.

    One note of caution – if she stays with him, be prepared for him to show up at company family events regardless of what’s she’s agreed to, and to bar him entry/have him escorted out. Decide now how you’ll deal with it if it happens more than once (because he will surely try to test it and make her life miserable if she doesn’t let him) and follow through on that, even if it means that you have to let her go. Try not to let her go if you can manage it though, and keep her from being so readily isolated by him.

    1. Nonsensical*

      You’re making a lot of assumptions that he is a controlling abusive boyfriend and that he won’t abide by company standards. There is absolutely nothing in the original post to assume that he is being abusive towards her. I am not saying he is a good person – but it is entirely possible for this to be a consensual non abusive relationship.

      Yes, if he does show up after they banned him from it, they should call the police but to assume he will? There is not enough information here to make that assumption.

      1. Eesh*

        The letter mentions that he was charged with stalking, and that is a red flag. Not enough on its own to merit real-world action, but enough for commenters on an advice blog to air their concerns. Stalking is pretty well correlated with other abusive behavior and certainly indicates a lack of boundaries.

      2. animaniactoo*

        It is possible, but it is not likely that it is a non-dysfunctional non-manipulative non-abusive relationship. So, if he’s ready and willing to abide by company rules, great. But be prepared for him not to be, because there’s a high likelihood that someone with this kind of background (especially the stalking) won’t be. Especially if he *hasn’t* filled her in on his background. Note that I deliberately approached whether or not she knew as two different situations with two different levels of risks.

    2. LCL*

      Out of all the replies this is the best. This is strictly an intellectual exercise for me, as I work for big government (TM) and would never have to make these decisions, I would immediately hand this off to HR.

  99. Completely Anonymous for this one!!!*

    OP…focus on the job related issues only. Set a policy about work standards and privacy and have it apply to everyone. We actually had the exact same situation with an employee and she did NOT appreciate our divulging what we had learned about her fiancée (his criminal, sexual assault activity was pointed out to us by a third party who knew she worked for us). We verified the history on the sex offender website and then advised her of what we had learned. WHAT A FREAKIN MISTAKE!!!!! She hated us for it and immediately quit. We felt awful, as if we had deliberately hurt her when all we wanted to do was bring it to,her attention so she could speak with him about the circumstances. NEVER AGAIN!!!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If you hadn’t shared the information and she ended up being victimized by him, would you think you did the right thing?

      People need to make informed decisions. Even though the outcome wasn’t what you hoped, you didn’t do anything wrong by sharing what you learned.

    2. animaniactoo*

      The fact that you got a response you didn’t want doesn’t mean you didn’t do the right thing. Not a mistake. You can only dictate your own actions in good conscience. What somebody else does… up to them.

      And frankly, if you’re going to date someone with a history of criminal sexual assault, you better be prepared for people to find out and bring it up with you. That is not to say that nobody should ever date such a person. Just that there’s stuff that comes with doing it, and you better be really clear eyed about what you’re getting into if you do.

      If you don’t know that you’re dating someone with a history of criminal sexual assault, and you go to town on blaming the messenger, that’s all on you.

    3. Saskia*

      I don’t think you made a mistake. Your employee feeling upset that you advised her what you knew about her fiancee was just one of the possible outcomes. You did the right thing and I thank you for it.

  100. bopper*

    I think it is great that the OP listened to their gut feeling…if you think about the book “The Gift of Fear” you should do just that. The BF’s strange behavior is what started this…not the OP being over stepping.
    I agree with animaniactoo but would add that you would like the employee not to talk about this with the BF…I don’t think he is going to say “How come I wasn’t invited to the picnic this year” but there might be more issues if the employee says “My boss doesn’t want you to come”.

  101. tusky*

    I think it would help to consider this as two distinct issues: (1) ethically, if/how you should pass along what you discovered to your employee, and (2) how to secure/protect your business, customers, and employees against potential harm.

    I’ll leave the first question to others, since I don’t have any concrete advice, and I could see valid arguments for multiple paths forward.

    As to the second question, I would strongly suggest broadening your thinking beyond this specific case to a more comprehensive set of policies and practices (whether that means creating anew, refining, or better enforcing existing ones). It seems that this case highlights a problem that will not be solved simply by removing the individuals in question. If the boyfriend in question is a sexual predator, he is certainly not the only one in existence. Assuming you can’t and won’t automatically know everything about the personal lives of your employees, and therefore can’t guarantee they don’t come into contact with untrustworthy people outside of the office, what reasonable precautions do you want/need to you take? For example, for customer information that needs to remain protected: stricter rules about employees taking work home, enhanced IT security?

  102. NW Mossy*

    Ugh, this is tough, but I’d go with an approach that’s transparent and compassionate – something like this:

    “Edith, I need to tell you something that’s tough to talk about. After Fergus’s recent visit here, I was concerned about his behavior and I looked him up online. Based on what I found, it looks like he has an extensive criminal history. I can’t vouch for whether or not what I found is true, but if it is, it’s pretty troubling. We don’t have to talk about whether or not you’re aware of what’s out there online or the truth of what’s there, but I need you to know that I’ve seen this information and I need to factor it into business decisions I make. I care about your well-being and safety, and want you to know that my first goal is always to make sure that this is a place where you can be safe and productive.

    Separately, I also learned that you’ve been taking work home that includes personal information about our clients and getting Fergus’s help with it. Neither of these things is OK to do, and this can’t continue. No one should remove personal information about clients from the office and/or share it with someone who doesn’t work here – we have legal and ethical obligations to protect that information, and our clients trust us to treat their info with the same care that we’d apply to our own info. Doing this can seriously damage our reputation and get us in legal trouble.

    I also want to be clear that when I assign work to you, I’m expecting you to do it – giving work to a non-employee isn’t OK. If Fergus is doing work unpaid, that’s a legal problem for me, and I can’t allow that. Doing this also makes it hard for me to judge your work and give you fair and appropriate feedback, because it mixes your work with work done by someone else and I can’t trust that what I’m commenting on is even your work.

    I’d like to ask for your commitment to leave all work here in the office and not access company information from any place other than the office. This means that working from home is not an option for you now. I would also ask that you not bring Fergus to the office. If you can agree to these changes, we can move forward.”

    1. Narise*

      I would state clearly: Fergus is not allowed on the premises under any circumstances. Ever.

      Also I would make sure the other employees know not to be alone with him and not to accept rides from him. I have an image of someone’s car not standing and accepting a ride from a coworker or a coworkers SO. Or Fergus tagging along to a lunch with coworkers.

  103. Lady Phoenix*

    I am not for googling people… but if your gut is on to something, then by all means keep yourself safe. And it turns out it is correct, boyfriend is a massive creepo.

    So tell you coworker that, but realize you might suffer the “don’t shoot the messager” that anyone suffera from when it comes to being in between lovers.

    Also tell her she can’t do work from home unless instructed to do so, and not just cause of creepo. If her connection was bad or if her laptop is stolen, that could be tons of clients in jeapordy.

  104. N*

    Are you going to do a similar search of everyone else who lives with or dates or is acquainted with your other employees? It rubs me the wrong way that the guy was only Googled because of the way he looked at you. It’s impossible to tell whether someone is or is not a bad person based on the way that they look. I’m not saying this is the case here, but “gut instincts” or “just a feeling” can be how people unknowingly express their internalized biases and assumptions. Keep that in mind if you decide to talk to your employee, because there is no good way to explain why you decided to Google him and not anyone else.

    1. sunshyne84*

      Right and did she google what happened? Rape is one thing, but what if it were peeing in public? Not quite the same, but can get you on the list.

    2. Observer*

      This is the classic line used to convince victims (usually women) that “nothing is going on”. If someone looked at in a way that gives you bad vibes, that absolutely IS useful information. That’s not about appearance, it’s about behavior!

      “His behavior creeped me out” is a perfectly valid reason for checking him out.

      1. N*

        It’s also a classic line used to discriminate against people of a different race or a lower socioeconomic class. Looking at someone is not a behavior. He didn’t try to touch someone, or go through someone’s desk, or even wink. He just looked at her, and she didn’t like it. It’s completely subjective.

        1. sunny-dee*

          All intuition is subjective. That doesn’t make it wrong or invalid. Looking at someone absolutely can be a behavior. The OP followed up on her intuition and it was proved right, very easily and in public documents. If nothing had come back, and she tried rifling through her employee’s purse or something, then she’d be invading privacy baselessly. Or if she had decided to penalize the employee just because she didn’t like the boyfriend’s looks, sans any evidence, that would also be wrong. But that’s not what happened.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Sure, but OP didn’t say “He creeps me out can I ban him from the premises?” She did her due diligence and found out there was actually a legit reason she was creeped out. It’s not really comparable to people being racist or classist.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          Looking at someone is not a behavior? Yes it bloody well is! If nothing else, your eyeballs are surrounded by your face, and faces have expressions.

          If looking isn’t a behavior, why do we have phrases like “he shot me a dirty look”, and “she leered at me”, and “bedroom eyes”, and “approving glance” and on and on?

        4. Student*

          Sounds to me like you’ve never experienced the following “looks”:

          -a guy staring at your butt or your breasts
          -a person leering or smirking
          -a stranger staring at you for a long period of time
          -someone glaring at you
          -an unwelcome winker
          -the eyebrow wiggler

          Heck, on the much less threatening/weird side, there’s countless examples of expressive but silent and mildly hostile maneuvers from every teenager on the planet:
          -the classic eye-roll
          -the angry squint
          -the pout
          -the “I’m ignoring you” refusal to make any eye contact whatsoever

    3. former expat*

      I agree that gut feelings like that can reflect unrealized biases, but they can also be bang on the nose, and in this case they absolutely were! I think it’s pretty disingenuous, after the writer’s found out that this guy is a serial sex offender who’s never managed to complete a rehabilitation program, that she shouldn’t have done the (very minimal) digging she did. These gut feelings can result from actually observing tells on a level we don’t consciously recognize.

      And even if she does decide to google every new person in the office from now on, so what? It’s not actually an act that does the subject of the search harm by itself. I know there’s debate on whether it’s creepy to do that or not and some people are unreasonable about what they find, but LW seems to have a pretty solid head on their shoulders. For one, they wrote into Allison asking for advice on what to do about this, instead of giving into a knee-jerk impulse about what to do about the situation.

    4. DArcy*

      I would point out that there is a huge distinction between “the way he looks” and “the way he looked *at someone*”.

      Her instincts were 100% correct; this individual is a dangerous sexual predator.

  105. Starbucks Girl*

    Allison- I love the idea of a weekly ask the readers post!

    As for this question- oof, it’s a tricky one. OP, I think you overstepped a huge boundary by googling your coworker’s boyfriend. Granted, you were listening to an instinct that turned out to be right, but it’s still inappropriate. If you had revealed ANYTHING other than the fact that he is an active sex offender (with no sign that he is recovering), I would say that it’s none of your business and totally out of line to bring it up. But in this case telling you not to say something would feel wrong. When you talk to her, focus the conversation on making it clear that you know who he is and that he isn’t welcome around the office or at any events. Don’t cast any judgement on her or him as people, just make it purely about protecting the company’s employees and their families.

    As for the fact that he helps her when she’s working from home- that’s a security risk regardless of whether he is a sex offender or not. That needs to be a separate conversation clarifying that she should not be showing client/customer information to anyone who doesn’t work at your company, or whatever is outlined in your data security protocols.

    1. Observer*

      Why is it inappropriate to follow up on an feeling that someone may present a danger to you?

      1. Starbucks Girl*

        Easy there. That’s not what I’m saying.

        Of course its okay to look into someone who may present a danger to you. However- unless OP understated the situation and he was posing some seriously suggestive body language or said something offensive- there wasn’t enough information there to qualify him as potentially dangerous. At that point, you are deciding that you don’t trust a person because of how they look, which opens the door for discrimination and personal bias.

        Furthermore, Googling someone you have a bad feeling about isn’t crossing a boundary. Invading your coworker’s privacy in order to learn more about their personal life, however, does cross a professional boundary. That’s what makes this a tricky situation.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’m not understanding where you’re getting “invading a coworker’s privacy”.

  106. Tara*

    My office mate and I (both managers) discussed this at length and we both agree that we would not tell our staff member that we discovered something online about her boyfriend; it would be overstepping boundaries and inappropriate to google him in the first place, and even worse to tell her about it. In fact, I’d expect my staff member to go to HR and complain about me if I told her I googled her boyfriend because I didn’t like the way he looked at me.

    As for the business concerns, expectations should be clear for everyone on the team, in terms of working from home and having other people see private information.

    1. Elspeth*

      Seriously? How is it inappropriate to google someone who gives you a look which makes you very uncomfortable? Oh, and HR wouldn’t, in fact, couldn’t, do anything just because someone googled another person. That’s ridiculous!

      1. Tara*

        Where I work, I would certainly be talked to by HR if I googled one of my staff member’s boyfriends and then told her what I found, and she complained about it. I’d be uncomfortable if my boss did that to me. If you feel the need to google someone, that’s one thing – but telling the staff member is seriously inappropriate, in my opinion.

  107. Interviewer*

    If there are any overnight visits at his place (i.e., the one on the registry), I bet she knows about it already. Neighbors can get quite lively when sex offenders move in, so she probably has seen nasty notes, or witnessed a vicious campaign to get rid of him.

    I would hit hard on the issue of working remotely. I would tell her she’s not allowed due to his involvement in the tasks, which crosses the line in multiple areas: employment law (you have to pay him for worked hours), privacy laws, insurance licensing issues, and ethics.

    I would also mention that he’s not allowed to attend events or visit your office. Further breaches of your trust will be cause for disciplinary action and possibly termination.

    It should make for an interesting meeting. However this goes down, we’d love an update.

  108. Kristy*

    I’m an insurance agent, I work specifically in commercial (business) insurance and I’m going to tell you exactly what I would tell my agency’s owner. Everything I’m saying assumes that you are in the United States.
    1. Do not say anything to your employee about who she chooses to socialize with. This isn’t any of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are friends and it doesn’t matter if your office is “like a family.” Your primary relationship with her is employee-employer. You have no right to tell her how to liv her life. If you should choose to say something to her anyways, expect that you will be making a claim on your Employment Practices Liability Insurance policy. While the list of Wrongful Acts does not include things like “being a busy-body” it does include other things like retaliation, wrongful failure to promote, wrongful discipline, harassment, and discrimination. And you don’t need to be guilty, even if you can prove your innocence, you will have to open a claim and your insurer will likely settle. Once the claim is open, its going to be a factor in your renewal premium for 5 years so you can expect to pay higher rates or be cancelled. This applies whether your employee is an employee (W2) or a contractor (1099)
    2. Immediately and going forward, no employees are allowed to take work home with them. You can (and should) tell them that this is because you value a work/life balance. The truth is that as the agency owner, you are responsible for your clients information and any breach/loss/publication of their information. It sounds like she only had names and addresses, which is public information and wouldn’t be considered “personally identifying information” and so a breach/loss/publication of this information would not mean anything. If you had any other information, like an account number, policy number, social security number, credit card number (anything that can be used with public information to commit fraud) then you would want to refer to your cyber liability/data compromise/data breach policy. You would be legally required to send notification to every person whose information you think could have been breached, and you are going to want to work with your insurer for that. If she is a contractor and you cannot control where she works, you should make it a policy that any contractor who opens a claim on your Errors & Omissions (E & O, Professional Liability) policy will be responsible for the deductible. These deductibles are usually pretty high, like $2,500-$5,000.
    3. The idea that he would see a name and address and decide to introduce himself is ridiculous. You wouldn’t be sending marketing material to anyone under age and even if he saw the name and address of someone he wants to stalk, it wouldn’t be your fault. It’s so easy to find someone’s name and address.
    4. You need to treat this employee the same as everyone else. If other people’s partners are invited then you can’t exclude her. If that means that you don’t invite partners anymore then that is your choice.

    1. SDSMITH82*

      You provided more details than I did while commenting, but those are exactly the points I’d be making- especially the E&O stuff.

      And making sure the agency owner has EPL (and possibly Data Breech coverage) on herself.

    2. Observer*

      1. What is the basis for “wrongful” anything? Being in a relationship with a convicted sex offender is not protected by any regulations. So even if she could prove that the OP fired her or failed to promote her because of her boyfriend, there is no “wrongfulness” in the sense that it’s defined legally.

      2. If you think that name and address of your client list is not PII, then you need to brush up on the matter, in terms of marketing, legal status and the possible PR implications. It’s pretty rich that you won’t tell people about information that could be literally life threatening because a boss magically becomes forbidden from “interfering” with someone’s life, but you can tell them how to balance work and life. Because THAT is not at all interfering or paternalistic. Not at all.

      It *is* true that you should forbid ALL staff from taking this stuff home. But not because you are being their nanny. It is because someone CAN misuse this information, whether you realize this or not. And it has nothing to do with his record as a sex offender.

      4. No you don’t. A person, and that includes employers, has a right to ban people from their premises, even when other people are not banned. As long as it’s not related to a protected class. And sex offenders are not a protected class.

      1. Kristy*

        Observer, we were asked to give advice to the OP, who is in the insurance industry, as such, my response was for someone in the industry. Since you didn’t give any indication of your affiliation, I’m going to go ahead and answer this like I would a client not an agency owner.

        1. Whether or not something is wrongful is something to be decided by the courts. My point was not that the employee’s relationship was protected. My point was that the employee could sue the owner and say that he discriminated against her because of who she chooses to socialize with outside of work. Even if her allegations are unfounded, as soon as she brings suit the owner is required to open a claim on his Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy. All policies have a condition that states that you must inform the insurance company as soon as you are aware of a claim. Once the claim is open, the insurance company is going to be spending labor hours on claims reps and lawyers. Most EPLI claims settle out of court.

        For example, we’re going to say that the owner says something to the employee about her partner and the employee chooses to continue seeing her partner. The next time the employee feels slighted in any way at work, she can bring suit. She got a bad performance review and didn’t get a bonus? She can sue. She didn’t get a promotion that she feels that she should have gotten? She can sue. She gets fired as another poster suggested? She can sue. A lot of women could sue their employers right now for sexual harassment because part of the employers job is to protect their employees from harassment, including sexual harassment from other employees, clients, etc. She doesn’t have to win this court case, as I said, most of these claims settle. But it will increase the agency’s insurance premium and possible cancel their policy. It will also create a huge amount of work for the agency’s owner to prove innocence.

        2. a.The OP never said that the marketing material was for their current clients. You are assuming that. Even if they were, it would not be PII. Name and address are public information. For it to be a breach, it would have to include information that would allow someone viewing the information to commit fraud. If you had my name, my address, and the name of the company that writes my home and auto insurance, you would not be able to do anything but send a letter or sign me up to receive a lot of catalogs. Even if you had my policy number, the only thing you could do it open a claim.

        2.b. I am in Washington State. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW)> Title 19>Chapter 19.255>Section 19.255.010>
        (4) For purposes of this section, “breach of the security of the system” means unauthorized acquisition of data that compromises the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information maintained by the person or business. Good faith acquisition of personal information by an employee or agent of the person or business for the purposes of the person or business is not a breach of the security of the system when the personal information is not used or subject to further unauthorized disclosure.
        (5) For purposes of this section, “personal information” means an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements:
        (a) Social security number;
        (b) Driver’s license number or Washington identification card number; or
        (c) Account number or credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.
        (6) For purposes of this section, “personal information” does not include publicly available information that is lawfully made available to the general public from federal, state, or local government records.

        2.c. There is no indication that the employee’s partner is a danger to the employee. Someone with the authority released him back into society. None of the charges against the partner are definitively life threatening (not all pedophiles, stalkers, sex addicts are murderers.) In fact, we have no reason to believe that the partner has not turned his life around except that the owner felt uneasy.

        2.d. The work/life balance part was an easy way for the owner to introduce the new rule while looking like a good employer. Its 100% appropriate for an employer to tell his/her employees that they want them to have a good work/life balance. Especially since they would be on the hook to pay any extra hours worked. Having a good work/life balance is something that most people want to the point that it’s considered a perk.

        3. See above. I don’t think that your comment about the owner being a nanny to the employees is an appropriate response to what I wrote.

        4. The agency owner could ban the partner from events. How is that going to make the employee feel? Will she feel like a valued member of the agency? Will it create or deepen feelings of being treated unfairly? See #1 above. Perception is reality.

        I’ve noticed a lot of comments about how the partner is a threat to the employee and pretty much every one in the world. Its very saddening to think that this person will never again be treated as a person by society, because that is the gist I am getting here. This is a person with a criminal record, his past is truly horrifying, but it seems that it is all he will ever be because that is all that everyone sees. Being a bit creepy is not a crime. There is a reason that the sex offender registry exists, there is also a reason why you have to search into it and the people on it do not have to wear a SEX OFFENDER shirt. What happened to being innocent until proven guilty? He was proven guilty of past crimes, he should be able to live his life now as long as he is staying inside the law and we have no proof that he isn’t.

        1. Observer*

          My point was that the employee could sue the owner and say that he discriminated against her because of who she chooses to socialize with outside of work.

          An employee (or former employee) can sue for pretty much anything. If an employer is going to have to always jump through hoops to prevent the possibility of a baseless or nuisance suit, they won’t be able to get things done. And, in fact, this comes up a lot where employers allow extremely destructive stuff to go on because of fear of such suits.

          Even if they were, it would not be PII. Name and address are public information.
          Data security IS in my wheelhouse, and I can tell you that a list