employer sends out lurid details about crimes committed by coworkers or customers

A reader writes:

My current employer (a quasi-governmental corporation with over 10,000 employees) sends out company-wide emails every time an employee or customer is arrested for or convicted of a crime. These emails describe — often in lurid detail — exactly what the person was accused of doing.

Here’s a snippet from an email I received today:

Former [company] employee [name], [age], of [city], was sentenced yesterday to two years of judicial diversion supervised by the [state] Department of Correction. [Name] plead guilty to solicitation of a minor after facing charges for aggravated statutory rape. He was ordered to undergo psychosexual evaluation and will be on the [state] Sex Offender Registry.

[Name] was arrested on [date], after arranging to meet with an individual he believed to be a fifteen-year-old girl for a sexual encounter. The individual with whom [name] was communicating was, in fact, an undercover [city] Police Department investigator.

I get emails like this about every month or so. Sometimes, they describe specifically the tactics used by the criminal on their victim(s), such as this clip from another email I received recently: “[Name] exposed himself and masturbated while seated next to a female [at a highly specific location on company property].” (Sidebar: Do they want copycat predators to learn where gaps exist in the company’s surveillance system?) A mug shot of the person often is included, especially if the criminal was caught by cameras before, during, or after the incident. They all turn my stomach to read.

I’ve worked in four other professional settings, all of which had thousands of employees and served millions of customers, so statistically speaking all of them must have had their fair share of criminals walking around us at any given time. Yet none of the others went out of their way like this company does to make sure we all know that guy in accounting didn’t just get fired — he was also involved in some kind of sex crime too.

I assume they are legally allowed to divulge this information once the person has been convicted, but what about when they’ve just been arrested and nothing has been proven yet in court? I also have to believe the company thinks doing this promotes employee safety in some way. Otherwise, it just seems very voyeuristic and frankly kind of prurient: They never seem to go into as much detail when the crime isn’t sexual in nature. As for today’s Criminal of the Month, the crime occurred several states away, the guy no longer works here and everyone outside his department didn’t know him anyway, so it’s highly unclear to me how much threat he poses any of us anymore.

What exactly am I supposed to do with this information I keep getting about the people around me occasionally committing crimes? How does having this level of detail about their crimes improve my performance at work or increase my safety outside of work? Can I ask them to simply send out one-sentence emails like “Former employee John Doe was convicted of solicitation of a minor and indecent exposure in Narnia County Court yesterday,” maybe followed up with a generic “if you see evidence of coworkers or customers committing a crime, report it immediately to X” and let the people who actually worked with him do their own research if they care to know more?


It’s odd that they feel the need to announce these crimes company-wide at all. I mean, if a crime took place on company property, sure — that’s relevant from a safety standpoint. But I don’t know why you’d need to know about arrests and convictions of former employees, or, in most cases, customers.

And the level of detail they’re including is bizarre.

I assume this is all supposed to be connected to safety, however tenuously, so you could frame a query around it that way: “I’m not clear on the intention behind the emails about people’s arrests and convictions. How are we meant to be using that information?”

Or you could just come out with: “We’re receiving pretty lurid details in these crime reports. Some of them are jarring to read at work. Is it possible to limit the details, and even the reports themselves, to what’s truly necessary for company safety?”

You could also point out that in a company of over 10,000 people, there are almost certainly people who find these emails upsetting or even traumatizing, and people should be able to focus on work without suddenly discovering a detailed account of a sex crime in their inbox.

That said, it’s a company of over 10,000 people, so the chances of getting this changed are lower than if it were a company of 200. But it’s feedback worth giving.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 352 comments… read them below }

  1. Inquiring mind wants to know...*

    I’m wondering about defamation of character, particularly regarding those people who have been arrested and not (yet?) convicted. (FWIW, I’m in the U.S.) If these people ultimately not convicted, don’t they have a right to their good name?

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      If the person was arrested, it isn’t defamation to say they have been arrested.

            1. Tera*

              I think the idea is that even though ‘X has been arrested for [insert horrendous crime here]’ might be factually true, if the person in questions turns out to be innocent their reputation will have been slandered almost as much as if the news had just said ‘X committed [insert horrendous crime here]’. Even though in reality there is an obvious huge difference between those two things, many innocent peoples lives have been ruined from being arrested for something they didn’t do.

              1. mark132*

                Yep, arrest records can show up during background checks. And it doesn’t have to be a horrendous crime, to cost someone a job etc.

            2. Timothy (TRiG)*

              There is a right to free speech; there’s also a right to privacy. The US balances those rights to one extreme; other countries make different decisions. Some think the US should change. That’s not an unreasonable position.

              1. Susie Q*

                In the US Constitution there is no explicit right to privacy. It is alluded to in the 4th amendment but what that entails is consistently up for debate. Whereas the freedom of speech is an explicitly stated right.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Yes, but the right to free speech isn’t absolute, either. There is court precedent that free speech can be reasonably curtailed where it causes harm to others, and any right to privacy notwithstanding I’d argue that the significant harm possible from reporting on an arrest of someone who turned out to be innocent should be more than enough to justify curtailing this one specific type of free speech.

      1. Yvette*

        Correct, you cannot libel/slander/defame with the truth.

        That being said, if the charges are dropped or the person is acquitted, are those responsible for the emails just as quick to report “John Doe, charged with/arrested for (insert crime here) has had all charges dropped/been acquitted.”?

        And it is, to paraphrase Alison, extremely strange and the level of detail is just bizarre. Are they from the same person, or business unit like security or HR?

        1. Inquiring mind wants to know...*

          Thank you, Yvette. That’s what I was trying to get at in my poorly stated original comment. Yes, I realize names can be published (usually upon arraignment), but what about when the charges are dropped/disproven etc. Doesn’t the company then have the responsibility to say so? Again, in an attempt to restore the person’s good name.

          1. Wintermute*

            No, the original statement was a true one, they have to tell the truth but they don’t have to tell ALL the truth. And to be honest, for libel/slander, they don’t even have to tell the truth, they just have to not be willfully deceitful (being mistaken is not enough) and opinions are just fine.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Truth is an absolute defense.

        But I feel like it’s UNFAIR to report widely on someone’s arrest. Nothing has been tested yet; all that has happened is a police officer or a district attorney’s staff has decided there’s enough evidence to consider a trial.

        1. whingedrinking*

          It’s been suggested that this is part of the reason for the “Florida Man” meme. The law in Florida is that anything a government agency does, with very few exceptions, is public information. Ergo, arrest records are easy to access by any member of the public, including journalists. You can’t be accused of libel if you merely report on what was said in an official document, and so Florida Man was born.

          1. Amy Sly*

            Granted … “man hits pool boy by accident when trying to shot feral iguana” is not the kind of headline that could happen in many other states …

            1. Shad*

              If other states had feral iguanas, there’s nothing particularly special about the water in Florida that makes trying to shoot it more likely in Florida than elsewhere.
              Florida just hopped on board the sunshine law train pretty early, making them a very convenient target to look for weird crimes.

              1. Amy Sly*

                Oh, agreed. But the Florida man and woman stories I enjoy are the ones that involve interaction with Florida’s wildlife, not the methhead antics that happen everywhere. “Beware of falling iguanas” in the weather forecast, and suchlike.

                1. Fellow Boot Fancier*

                  I lost my coffee laughing when I read that weather report last week!!! Reality can be Priceless

          2. Clisby*

            There is nothing special about Florida when it comes to reporting arrest records. What you’re describing has been the case everywhere I’ve lived (SC, GA, OH).

            1. whingedrinking*

              You can always report on an arrest record. The issue is how you get hold of those arrest records. In Florida, anybody can phone the cops and ask, and the police must comply immediately. Apparently some police departments even just put everything online, so if you’ve got the patience to comb through them all every day, you’re bound to eventually get something wacky. In other states, they’re allowed to delay the release or have other hoops for you to jump through.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Weird. Every state I’ve lived in publishes a police blotter that lists topics of 911 calls and public interactions with police, crimes reported in general, etc. It used to be like a quarter page in the local paper but then the internet happened.

        2. Observer*

          Yes, this is totally not a LEGAL problem. But, not only is it bizarre, it’s pretty gross and unfair.

        3. Bunny*

          Alleged journalist here.

          What you may be looking for is discretion and follow up. If I report Fred has been arrested for assaulting teapots, and that turns out to be a mistake, by the DA or the reporter, I am of the school that mistake should be reported on with the same prominence as the arrest.

          I also don’t think every arrest is newsworthy. I need law enforcement to show me their work. I show mine.

          An arrest is newsworthy in most cases. It’s my job to provide context.

          This isn’t the forum for hashing out news ethics, but I hope you’ll read/watch/listen to reputable news outlets, and pay for your local news.

    2. F.M.*

      If it’s listing that they’ve been arrested and accused of X, or otherwise basing the information on what was released publicly by the policy, that’s unlikely to be defamation in the legal sense. Even if they’re later proven innocent (and in the example above, it says they pled guilty), stating facts as received from an official source is pretty safe on the libel side of things.

      1. HBJ*

        Removed because I don’t think there’s a need for those sorts of graphic crime details here (they’re more graphic than what was in the letter itself)! – Alison

        1. Baja*

          Are you the person sending out those emails? Because just your description is ridiculously lurid and I have no idea why you felt it necessary to post it in response to a letter seeking advice on how to stop this.

        2. Just Another Techie*

          Was it really necessary to describe that crime here?

          Also for the benefit of everyone reading this, saying TW and then not leaving any white space or other visual break before going into the triggering content, does not actually effectively warn anyone of anything. Anyone who is a fast reader will have difficulty hitting the back button fast enough to not absorb the triggering content without *some* kind of visual break. Just the letters “TW” are not a failsafe, and in cases like this are really little more than a thing fig leaf.

          1. fogharty*

            I didn’t know that “TW” stood for “Trigger Warning” until you explained about it just now… so yeah, just typing TW with a single line break did nothing.

          2. EEOC Counselor*

            I never heard of “TW” before. But it is best to say “Trigger warning for info in my reply” and then reply to yourself so that someone can skip it if they want. Many people keep reading before their brain has fully processed that there is a trigger warning.

          3. Gumby*

            Pretty sure the tw was for the article linked rather than the following sentence. Like “the article it has stuff of this nature so you may not want to click through” but, I agree, that it was over-detailed for tw purposes. I see that as someone well-meaning but not experienced with such warnings.

            1. Fikly*

              You are more kind than I.

              I have seen far too many people deliberately expose other people to things that are triggering for their own enjoyment.

        3. HBJ*

          My apologies, Alison. I felt that it was a relevant point. My point was, without citing a specific example this time, is that what someone is accused of but ultimately gets dismissed or pled down to something much less serious can be EXTREMELY relevant.

          1. Arctic*

            No, it is still definitely not defamation in the US. It’s still a true statement that they were charged or arrested for that incident. And

            It may have moral implications but it is definitely not illegal in any jurisdiction where the US Constitution is governing.

            1. HBJ*

              Exactly! That was my point. Not only is it true that they were arrested and the affidavit details as to what for, but it can be relevant and worth knowing even if it’s ultimately dismissed or pled down.

              1. Uldi*

                Relevant to who is the question here. Their employer? Sure. Their co-workers? Maybe. Their clients/customers? Only if they were directly affected by the crime themselves. Otherwise it’s just noise, irrelevant and distracting.

                1. Helena1*

                  I can imagine some situations, like if it is a customer/patient/service user and it was a crime on company property (I work in a hospital and we get trust-wide alerts about violent patients, for example).

                  But I am quite sure there is a better way of doing it than a salacious all-staff email. We use alerts on the electronic patient record, I don’t know what area OP works in but I’m sure there must be something equivalent (before the advent of electronic records we had a rogues’ gallery in a staff-only area behind the A&E reception desk).

                2. HBJ*

                  Yea, I’m not trying to argue the employer should be sending out these emails. It definitely seems odd to me, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. My original post was in response to the main thread asking whether this could be defamation of character, and I was generally addressing the newsworthiness and whether the information should be available as opposed to this one employer’s specific emails.

          2. Meepmeep*

            Thing is, some accusations are false and some are grossly exaggerated by the prosecution in order to force the defendant to plead down. The prosecution is not a neutral party here.

            I speak as an attorney who was involved in a horrendous false-accusation matter where the defendant’s life was basically ruined over the bare accusation. Turns out he had a rock-solid alibi and physically could not have done what he was accused of doing. He was acquitted on all counts. He was factually innocent, and one of the lucky ones in that he could afford to prove his innocence at trial. But some reporter got hold of the arrest record and there’s an article out there about it. Try going about your life with something like that following you.

            I’m not sure the presumption of innocence is something that needs to be abandoned.

            1. First Star on the Right*

              The truth never catches up with the lie, as the saying goes. I think absolutely everyone has been on the wrong end of, to some degree, but so, so, many people jump to conclusions- I won’t pretend I never do, but I try to keep an open mind and acknowledge I can be wrong.

              I am so sorry for your client.

    3. Veronica Mars*

      My local police department posts all arrests, in great detail, on their Facebook page (with a useless * at the bottom saying arrest does not equal conviction). Other people usually then tag the offenders in it. So, I’m guessing there’s no legal protection for a company doing the same. But the Facebook call-out for unproven violations always bothered me.

      FWIW I used to work at an alcohol manufacturer and they had a policy that even alcohol-related arrests (without convictions) were grounds for firing. The logic was we couldn’t take the risk of waiting months for convictions. But it was an at-will state so?

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I worked at an org that had youth programming, and an arrest for any offense that meant you were even remotely a danger to others meant you were gone. And in the bounds of company programming, an accusation brought forth by a kid or parent also meant you were gone, even if there was no proof. They can’t take chances with the kids’ safety in the interim.

        1. Automated*

          And this is why plenty of good folks don’t go into that work.

          Suspending while investigating? Sure.

          Firing and upending someones life over an accusation? Problematic.

        2. Random IT Guy*

          And then – what if the accusation was incorrect?
          Does the accused get reinstated? Get reparation payments?

          What if the accusation was due to something they decided that the kid or parent did not agree with?
          (Child hits another child, accused tells attacker to stop or leave the room .. attacker feels slighted, and fabricates accusation – and yes, it happened).

          I appreciate they cannot take any chances – BUT they do take chances with the livelihood of people, with their (professional) reputations and all.

          There should be justice for all.

      2. TootsNYC*

        one could argue that such a notification allows people to speak up to say the arrest is unjust, if they hadn’t known about it before.

      3. Ambulance Chaser*

        Yeah, it’s really a major inconvenience to sit around waiting to see if someone actually did the bad thing before we punish them for it.


    4. freelance philosopher*

      that’s disturbing. my concern would be that these kind of posts dealing with sexual offenses might make people who have experienced that sort of thing as a victim very uncomfortable. If you really want it stopped, that’s what I would communicate to HR about it – the very real concern that it might be ‘triggering’, which is ridiculous to risk if there is no real benefit to it.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        To me it sounds like the person sending it gets pleasure from imposing the gory details on everyone. I don’t know if you’d want to be that blunt, but IMHO that’s why it needs to stop.
        If there are safety concerns the security department should send out a general warning about criminals in the area. Once the criminals have been arrested, there is no need for a warning. And any warning should be sent only to locations in the area, not the entire national company, for Pete’s sake.

        1. anonymouslee*

          I agree completely, it seems like something the sender gets pleasure from in one sense or another.

    5. Maya Elena*

      (Note – not a lawyer.) It might not be legally defamation, but it’s a crap thing to do in general. Fine print of ” arrest is not conviction” aside, people’s lives have been seriously upended over “accusation”, much less “arrest”.

    6. Maria Villagomez*

      I feel that the person who is sending these emails out gets a kick, and has a lot of time on their hands to find this information instead of doing their workload. Unless this person has an assistant.

  2. The Original K.*

    Literally said ” … What?” out loud when I read this letter. Alison is right, this is really weird. Like a company newsletter but for … crimes?

    1. Veronica Mars*

      Yeah, like Alison said, I feel like I should have the right to endure a workday free of unsolicited details of the evils of the world.
      I even stopped watching evening news because its too stressful for me.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      I wonder if it’s a misguided attempt at covering their liability? Drive in the parking garage at you own risk – Jane parks there too. Is there a childcare facility on site? Bring your kid in to daycare at your own risk – Fergus works 2 floors up.

      Otherwise, I can only assume that this is an attempt to shame people into not committing crimes?

      1. EPLawyer*

        It’s someone super creepy at work who is using “safety” as an excuse to send out this stuff. Notice how the sex crimes have lurid details but other crimes don’t?

        I have to wonder if this is company policy or just someone started it and everyone thought it was authorized so no one stopped it?

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Definitely not justifiable at all! Just trying to get at what on earth would prompt a person to do this.

        2. fposte*

          Oh, that’s a really smart thought–I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just a random thing that everybody’s taken as policy. It’ll be interesting if the OP’s queries reveal that.

        3. merp*

          Yeah, I feel like these reports were the result of just one weird weirdo who likes to gossip up in HR, and no one has told them to stop.

        4. Merpaderp*

          Yeah, the additional detail for sex crimes stood out to me too. Since I also got the sense that this is from a single person rather than a department, (based on no facts, granted) I actually was wondering if it was someone’s personal project (post #metoo, or similar) to notify people of how pervasive sexual violence is? And the other crimes got lumped in? The level of detail, especially as the OP mentions, the addition of describing what tactics were used/security vulnerabilities exploited feels like… something?

      2. CL Cox*

        If there is a daycare on site (or even within a certain distance), Fergus may be either moved or fired. There are often restrictions on how close people on the sex offender registry can live or work to schools, daycares, etc.

        1. pancakes*

          Why wouldn’t the sender articulate that that’s their concern or impetus for writing, then? And why be lurid in recounting details, in any case?

      3. CSR by Day*

        I think it is a misguided attempt to dissuade people from committing crimes, by pointing out what happens to those who commit them. However, in this case the person revealing this information seems to be doing so in an unnecessarily salacious manner.

    3. JobHunter*

      My first impression was these are Clery disclosures from a university. Then I reread the letter.

      1. Itsamea*

        The clery reports at my uni are a quick subject, e.g. “robbery attempted on ABC street” with body text: A uni/non-uni person was victim of X crime at 00:00 o’clock on DATE. See attached report.

        The attachment usually includes a security footage frame of the perpetrator, slightly more detail, but absolutely nothing to this extent.

        No names, ever. And no details other than perhaps the type of weapon used, or any notable modus operandi.

        1. JobHunter*

          Ours had some details and no photos. I don’t recall reading anything extremely graphic. Definitely no names. There was one warning that the perpetrator was still at large and committing crimes off campus before they were caught.

      2. Auto Generated Anon*

        That was me too, I thought it was a bad interpretation of Cleary. OP, are you in higher ed by any chance?

        1. Original Poster*

          No, I’m not in higher ed.

          I’m obviously not a lawyer so I don’t know if what this HR person is doing is required by law, or if somebody might be misinterpreting a law to justify these types of emails. But, since I’ve worked for similar companies elsewhere that don’t send out these types of emails (either back then or today per my contacts still employed at those places), I’m pretty confident that this isn’t required by law.

    4. Elaine Benes*

      I know! It feels like they’re perversely trying to brag about how many criminals they hire and/or take on as clients. Look how bad we are at hiring, everyone- on a monthly basis!
      How is LW the first person to have noticed/have complaints about this weird practice?! How have no upper level management flagged it as off-putting and demoralizing?! SO MANY QUESTIONS.

      1. Sparrow*

        I would be shocked if OP was the first to have issues with it. It may be one of those things where it’s such a large company that either no one knows who to talk to or they feel like there’s no point since what are the odds they’d listen to one random among thousands of employees. If OP can recruit others to formally complain, as well, that might help.

      2. pancakes*

        I would find it very demoralizing to be in this workplace if no one else wanted to / tried to strongly discourage this.

    5. doreen*

      I’m wondering if it’s something like my large governmental agency – it’s not that someone is specifically looking for employee arrests to send in an email. Everyday the PR people sent out a “newsclipping ” email that contains every newspaper or magazine article that mentions the agency name. Could be an employee was arrested, could be a “client” was arrested, could be that we’re closing a facility, someone is presenting at a conference and so on. Really anything that makes the newspaper. But at least 90% are about staff/”clients” being arrested.

    6. Butterfly Counter*

      Yes! That’s what I thought and why my first thought would be to reply with “UNSUBSCRIBE”.

      1. Random IT Guy*

        If only.

        You`d get strange looks / comments if you would do this.

        But – from an IT point of view – this looks like misuse of company property and time to me.
        These emails do not serve any purpose other than “entertainment”.
        If something happened in the office / on site – then that might have a link (but no details are needed in all their sick glory as OP describes) to on-site safety .. but ..

        Besides many other reasons (causes unrest, might trigger memories of people who were victims – undoing therapy/recovery) i think the angle of misuse of company time and/or property could be a way to stop this.

    7. GreyjoyGardens*

      It sounds like someone is a real fan of National Enquirer type stuff and thinks everybody else will be fascinated, too. I mean yes, there are lots of people into true crime, and rubbernecking, but it’s really, really odd (and not appropriate, IMO) to make it into a company newsletter.

      People might appreciate something light-heartedly off topic, like a newsletter detailing the cute things their pets have done, but I’d say if a company wants to do a fun newsletter thing keep it G-rated and nothing that you would be ashamed to tell your grandma.

    8. tamarack and fireweed*

      I feel like if I was relatively senior this would be a good cause to burn some social capital and go over the head of the department that is at the root of this. Executives tend to be very sensitive to the argument that employees should not be bothered with information that isn’t actionable. They also usually have a good sense of orders of magnitude. Something like “The employee newsletter regularly features crime reports that involve perpetrators that are connected to our business, like current or former employees or even customers. They are extremely lurid, and I fail to see what we’re supposed to do with the information. In a company of our size it is statistically likely that occasionally someone commits a crime, so I wonder whether they aren’t counterproductive by encouraging voyeurism and gossip. I also wonder if the time of the person who compiles them is very well used.” Via a channel that encourages employee feedback, ideally a high-level manager whose ear you happen to have.

    9. Rigger*

      I’m also wondering how continuing clients might react to this kind of detailed censure, or just knowing that the company is watching their employees -former!- so closely.

  3. Dust Bunny*

    Yeah, no, this is super weird, creepy, and voyeuristic. And that’s from a die-hard true crime fan.

    1. GrumpyGnome*

      Also a true crime/forensic show fan! I think the difference is that we have the choice of when to read, listen to, or watch shows about it. Getting that information unsolicited would be jarring, to say the least.

      1. Quill*

        This is probably why I like cosmic horror as a genre. Being afraid of things that don’t exist and aren’t specifically after me, just humans in general, is cathartic to do on my own time.

        Getting emails like this is not cathartic, it’s just going to feed the paranoia brainweasels.

    2. Salymander*

      Yeah, it is one thing to be a fan of the crime genre, or even true crime if ethically produced. Quite another to use a real and unconsenting person’s trauma as a lurid form of entertainment under the guise of informing the public about a criminal. All that attention paid especially to the crimes with a sexual aspect to them? Very dodgy. This isn’t a police procedural show with a made up victim of the week. These are people’s lives being gawked at. This sickens me.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yes, that’s it, it’s a consent and boundaries thing. Lots of people love true crime. But there are fora and newsletters and Reddit communities and all that devoted to it where people who CHOOSE to read about it can go. You don’t just assume all your coworkers will appreciate it.

      2. MsSolo*

        This does have the same vibe as the dodgier True Crime shows, that are very “Look at how sexily the victim was murdered! Look at the relatives we’ve chased down in the street! Look at the arrest transcripts we’ve acquired that probably shouldn’t have been released at all! Guilty until proven guiltier!”

    3. Róisín*

      Yep! I watch shows like NCIS, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, etc for fun. (I know it’s not true crime but it is crime.) I literally call them my murder shows.

      I would not want to read this terrible newsletter.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        HA HA we call them murder shows, too! But I do not want to see this out of that context. I know that it happens and surely some of my coworkers must have records for one thing or another, but going to this length to make sure we all know it just seems exceptionally tawdry and salt-in-the-wound. My workplace does background checks, we have had very few creepy things happen involving employees, and those few things have been handled appropriately and effectively. I don’t need to see my coworkers’ mistakes and misfortunes smeared all over the morning group email.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Chiming in. Yup, extremely weird.

      In case all the hundred-eleventy others on here weren’t enough! :-)

  4. Hiring Mgr*

    That is extremely strange and no idea why they would do this, but I have to admit getting these monthly updates would be incredibly entertaining

    1. Clorinda*

      It might be just for the first couple of months, but then it would become sad. People making self-destructive choices for no good reason and no real benefit: after a while, wouldn’t you want to take them gently by the hand and ask them what’s wrong and how can you help?

    2. Le Sigh*

      Eh, I have to disagree. It sounds like the company isn’t doing a great job editing out sensitive content for one — I think I would get tired of going to work, not knowing if I’d have to read about a sexual assault in my inbox. That’s going to be hard for a lot of people when they’re just trying to focus on work.

      But I’m not a fan of our tendency to parade people around for shame. This doesn’t feel like a relevant safety alert; this reminds me more of that one OP’s company that put a dunce cap on people for mistakes so they could be mocked. Some people absolutely deserve the shame heaped on them, I’m not disputing that. But the U.S. is also overzealous in arresting people for a range of things and is heavily steeped in serious bias issues, and a not insignificant number of people who are arrested are dealing with addictions or untreated mental illness (which we also don’t address well in the U.S.). It sounds like many or some (?) of these people don’t even work for the company anymore, weren’t on company property, or live many states a way, so this has a real finger-pointy feel to it and that grosses me out more than anything.

      1. GreenDoor*

        Hiring Mgr, it’s only entertaining if you’re not the one whose name is put out their like this. Sure, technically it’s public information. But at the end of the day, OP works for a company that publicly shames employees and broadcasts their failures on a company-wide level. That’s not entertainment. It’s also something that surely affects employee morale – the idea the any little mistake and all your coworkers will hear about it.

        1. JSPA*

          It’s probably not entertaining for anyone who’s been falsely accused of anything; anyone who is skeeved out in retrospect to the point of discomfort; a significant subset of people who have crime (or body commentary or mental health commentary or explicit talk) anxiety or obsessions; people living with PTSD from a related situation; people who are close to anyone in any of those categories; people who have been subject to “edgelord” behavior (or have been the edgelord, and now look back in shame); and people easily distracted by intense information, more generally, if they don’t have the time to spare.

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            I don’t have any of that and I don’t find it entertaining either. It’s icky and I don’t want to see it.
            OP, can you delete the emails without reading them? That would be a way to cope until this is resolved.

          2. mark132*

            Even if they have been accurately accused, it would be nice to give them an opportunity to defend themself prior to the arrest being widely publicized. Of course rare extraordinary circumstances can exist, i.e. threats of violence to employees of the company.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        But I’m not a fan of our tendency to parade people around for shame.

        Hear, hear!

        It sounds like there is somebody very voyeuristic at this company, and once they are gone, these emails will probably stop.

    3. Observer*

      Ugh. No. Please, no.

      Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t find real, actual violence to be far from entertaining, same for graphic sexual misconduct, or even the details of people’s thefts and the like.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        You are not weird plenty of people don’t find it entertaining, but there are a large/significant contingent of people who do find crime entertaining. See Cops, Dog the bounty hunter, Alaska State Troopers, Dateline, 48 hrs, true crime podcasts.

        I fall somewhere in the middle, idk if “entertaining” is the right word, I don’t sit with a bowl of popcorn “enjoying” the show the way I would a comedy or other movie. But I have occasionally watched some documentaries/shows/ and listened to some podcasts because they are interesting.

        1. Le Sigh*

          This American Life did an episode back in May called “I’m on TV?” and one of the segments was on “Cops” and “Live PD.” A lot of the segment got into how these shows wildly distort reality — which is bad enough if it’s “Real World” but can have really serious consequences when you’re talking about arresting people.

          1. MsSolo*

            There’s a great podcast on the history of Cops (Headlong: Running from Cops), how it’s filmed and why a lot of cities really don’t want to host it. I had no idea it had been running for so long, or how many related shows it had spawned with even dodgier approaches to getting ‘consent’ for filming.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      Yes, all good comments. Entertaining wasn’t the best word to use here, more like so bizarre I don’t even understand.

      1. Oranges*

        Ah, more like the “what even is?” that you get when someone does something so out of normal that you become amused/entertained.

        Yeah, your original comment is gonna be blasted. Thanks for clarifying though.

    5. Salymander*

      It doesn’t sound very entertaining for the victims of these crimes, or for any people who have been falsely accused. Maybe it isn’t illegal, but it is really heartless and unethical.

      I was the victim of a crime. I despise the people who hurt me, but I would be mad as hell at anyone using what happened to me as entertainment or a way to feel self righteous and superior. This is so messed up.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Or for people who have been correctly accused of minor but embarrassing crimes. I just got off grand jury duty. A lot of the people indicted were clearly having mental health breakdowns, but didn’t hurt anyone.

  5. Non-profiteer*

    How bizarre! I wonder if they’re thinking it serves as some sort of deterrent? Like, don’t commit crimes, because you know that all your coworkers will get one of these emails?

    1. Narise*

      That made me laugh- the idea that an email will deter them from breaking the law. Since the prison sentence didn’t deter them not sure knowing an email is going to be sent out will deter them. I also do not understand the motive behind the email either.

  6. cheese please*

    I’m just SO baffled as to how HR is finding out about crimes committed by former employees!!!! That is SO STRANGE.

    I can see how a current employee being arrested and maybe being convicted is information known to HR /upper management, likewise for crimes committed on company property. But for a company to be snooping around newspaper articles or public records for former employees for crimes unrelated directly to the company is so terrible.

    Maybe you can’t stop this practice with feedback alone, but you can probably set up a filter on your email for key words so that they don’t get dumped into your primary inbox as often.

    1. Veronica Mars*

      Some companies have subscriptions to services that alert them of legal issues for employees. It depends on what the company does, but some I’ve worked at even require you to disclose bankruptcy, etc, because they’re worried you’re at risk of bribery.

      1. Amber T*

        A lot of financial institutions where you’re handling other people’s money will have things like this and other weird tracking things that sound stalkery but make good legal sense (i.e., I receive daily emails regarding employees’ political contributions, which are public record, but still sounds weird until you know the rules behind it). Technically, anyone can go online and search for this information. That being said, it’s super weird to just announce this information, especially to everyone at your firm?? Not normal at all.

        1. cheese please*

          I fully understand it’s public information that companies may need to know (and hopefully they disclose to employees that this public information will be monitored) but I can see no reason why former employees should be part of this?? (and it would be equally strange if it was an employee who was fired for a criminal charge / arrest etc. “Former Teapot Co employee Jane Doe was found guilty yesterday for her involvement in a hit and run in October 2018.” and then Jane Doe’s team realizes that’s why she didn’t come to work that day)

          It sounds like someone in HR just really likes knowing about people doing crimes and getting arrested and uses “employee safety” as an excuse to look up and share this information

          1. Amber T*

            Oh yeah, once an employee is no longer employed by a firm, we have a checklist that we go through (mostly disabling their access to anything at the firm) but it includes removing them from various monitoring lists. Tracking former employees makes zero sense and is pretty creepy.

          2. Amy Sly*

            Seems like HR might want to look into their hiring practices if they have so many employees getting arrested and convicted.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Lol, now that you say that, I’m really not sure.
          Maybe its just the only sign of financial insecurity they can actually trace? Like credit card debt isn’t publicly available?

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          1) Sign of financial insecurity/bad money management
          2) Not all debts are purgeable through bankruptcy — student debt being a glaring example
          3) Bankruptcy on the credit report means it will be extremely difficult to get a loan in the near future
          4) In general, financial professionals are required to be themselves of sound financial standing as an ethical standard. As an example, I fell behind on debt payments during the time I was unemployed. When I got a job at a brokerage firm, before I started, I was required to provide HR with a notarized accounting of my current debts, payment arrears, and the payment plans I’d worked out with each creditor to bring my accounts into good standing.

          Now, none of that is to say I agree with this or to defend the system. However, that is the current state of things in quite a lot of finance-related jobs.

        3. That would be a good band name*

          Just guessing that it’s because bankruptcy makes it harder (maybe impossible) to get credit. Also, if you have the type of bankruptcy where you keep your stuff and have your wages garnished, it’s really tough to make ends meet because of the amount of cash going towards paying off the bankruptcy. You don’t have payments, but you still have to eat and keep the lights on. Maybe still pay rent if you weren’t a homeowner when you filed.

        4. ASW*

          Bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily erase all of your debt. My company has employees whose wages are garnished and sent to a bankruptcy trustee. We had one employee a few years ago who was having almost $1,000 taken out of each paycheck! If that doesn’t leave you enough to live on, you might be tempted to take a bribe to pay the bills.

        5. CandleSoup*

          To answer this generally, plenty of wealthy people with no significant debt are bribed. A lot of people want more money or power.
          In this specific situation, if you’re out of money, you might have taken loans from shady sources that a bankruptcy court doesn’t know about, and loan sharks nearly amount to bribery.

    2. Daisy*

      It’s like the opposite of university alumni emails. Instead of ‘Brian Bobson, who graduated from Shitland University in 1988, was today awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine’, it’s ‘Brian Bobson, who worked here for Shitland Corps from 2001-2006, is a super-creepy rapist!’. Why would they want to highlight that association? It’s weird.

      1. Massmatt*

        That was my thought as well. Even if 99.9% of the 10,000 employees (and tens of thousands of former employees, customers, etc) are completely law-abiding, repeatedly publishing this lurid crime blog material makes people associate the employer with lurid crime.

        Companies work very hard to build positive associations of their brand in the minds of both their consumers and employees, this company seems to be going out of their way to do the opposite, it makes no sense.

        I would probably raise the issue once but wouldn’t be prepared to spend any capital on it. If a company is oddly invested in something like this then it’s their problem.

    3. Itsamea*

      A google alert is another possible answer. You can set up a google alert for any phrase (or name) so if it appears in news sources or newsletters or online catalogues it would send you an email. I’m presuming it’s possible to set up some kind of auto script where you have a database of names (employees, customers), and it provokes several auto actions, one of which could be registering a google alert.

      Not only does this not seem to be good HR, this seems directly antithetical to what HR is meant to do! A commenter on here listed all the categories of people who could be perturbed by these “announcements” and it’s imaginable that a good chunk of recipients would be.

      1. LJay*

        Makes you wonder how many false positives they’re getting as well. If my dad’s former employer sent out an email each time someone with their name committed a crime, there would be a ton of false positives as my last name is the second most common in the US and he has a very common first name.

    4. lurid details*

      If you’ve fingerprinted people for background checks, through many systems you get an alert if any new info gets added to that person’s record. The alert they send you reads similarly to OP’s examples, so it seems like a copy+paste? My only theory is that someone believes they could be liable if they DON’T give this info to employees?

    5. Chilly Delta Life*

      I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said… but OP if you do try to push back on this PLEASE post an update!

    6. Avasarala*

      My company takes safety very seriously so we share details with traffic accidents. The police have to be called so we all get an email with basic facts of the case, like “an employee was driving this way and the other car came this way, there was a collision with bumper damage, no injuries to either party”. I think it’s overkill but the employee’s name is not revealed (though I’m sure it’s obvious to anyone who knows the situation) and it’s exclusively for safety incidents. I’ve never gotten one about arrests, goodness.

  7. Spork*

    This is a perfect example of where Outlook rules are helpful. Create a folder called WTF, set a rule to send any email with content like this to that folder (is it always the same sender? Specific words used in the subject? etc) and then proceed with your worklife in blissful ignorance.

    1. Elenna*

      Yes, I was coming here to suggest that!

      (I’d be very tempted to send an anonymous email out after the next one of these, reminding people of how to create such a rule. If only to help the people in the company that are triggered by this kind of content. But that’s probably a bad idea…)

      1. Oranges*

        Depending upon your political capital and work culture. It might be a good idea. I’d have enough capital to burn (barely) and my work culture wouldn’t come down hard on this.

        I’d do it but that’s my specific circumstance.

        PS. Love the folder name for the emails

    2. Automated*

      If its always the same person you can just right click one of the emails and choose creat rule and select from this sender it auto generates most of the rule for you even.

    3. LilyP*

      Yeah I think this is the only actionable advice anyone is going to have here. I hope the chorus of WTFFF is reassuring though!

  8. Anita Brayke*

    Another fan of true crime here, and no, there is no way I would ever want to hear about my coworkers’ crimes! How petty of management (unless it’s needed for safety, as Alison said). Eww.

    1. Anonapots*

      But even for safety, you wouldn’t need blow-by-blow details and you probably wouldn’t need to know about past employees.

    2. JustaTech*

      The only thing I than safety is if something happened and as a result, say, the FBI was coming to collect evidence. But even than I would think the e-mail would be more like “There are Feds here today to collect evidence. Don’t delete/throw away anything, and comply with their requests but otherwise don’t engage.” And maybe a follow up e-mail “Coworker X has been arrested for [very serious crime] that may have taken place on company property.”

      (I only offer this because I know a guy who had this happen, except his coworker got the wind up and skipped the country, but left evidence on his work computer.)

      But for anything else it seems very weird.

  9. Czhorat*

    As I asked on Twitter — just how many crimes are the clients and employees committing? I’m concerned that it’s weird, but just as concerned that there’s one of these to share every month.

    1. Precious Wentletrap*

      Maybe it’s somewhere like a call center that’s high turnover and will hire everyone who comes through the door?

      1. Quill*

        Given the spectacular stories of my friend’s days in call centers, there’s probably monthly petty crime, but the details here are leaning towards the lurid and unnecessarily voyeuristic.

    2. Clorinda*

      It’s a company of over 10,000 employees, and they’re also tracking ex-employees for some time, so the pool has to be 15-20,000 people at least; you’re going to get a steady stream of DUIs at the very least.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, but things like solicitation of a minor or a anything else with “lurid details” I would – I hope – be rarer than that.

        1. Antilles*

          Agreed and that was my first thought too. Maybe OP just picked the most lurid ones from the email, but I feel like for every instance of underage solicitation or public exposure, there’d be like, 20 cases of generic bar fights, petty theft, white-collar fraud, and other similar crimes which aren’t particularly thrilling to anybody.

          1. Observer*

            The OP was pretty clear that they were picking the lurid ones, and that there are others as well – they say that the petty crime, fights, etc. just less detail.

        2. Original Poster*

          I am the original poster of the question.

          The emails arrive on average about once a month from a woman who works in HR here. But really they are issued whenever an arrest or conviction occurs, so sometimes there’s a cluster of 2-3 in a month and then several months where there are none. I have no idea how they track former employees, except that many of them seem to imply that the employee was fired or resigned because the crime occurred while they were still employed, so maybe they don’t really track former employees? I suspect that the crime itself happened while that guy was still employed, he missed a bunch of work because he was under arrest and that’s how HR knew to track him over the last 2 years until an outcome was reached by the courts. (Still that’s creepy. Isn’t firing him or forcing him to quit enough to end my company’s interest in the matter, especially since it happened in a state where we don’t do business or own property? Is it someone’s full-time job in HR here to track all these people’s court cases?!)

          About a third to half of them are sexual in nature. The others generally include theft, property damage, or drug or alcohol-related crimes, and as I originally wrote, they are much shorter in length than the sexual ones. If the HR woman insists on sending them, I’d prefer if they were all quick and short. Name, crime, date, along with a “if you see something, say something” admonishment if we’re all supposed to be taking this information to help make our workplace safer. (Not that I think these emails do that… but perhaps some of my coworkers do find them helpful I guess.)

          1. Observer*

            I wonder if this HR person is doing this of her own volition, and no one has thought to stop it – maybe each one assumed that someone else authorized it.

            Perhaps asking up the chain might be useful in that case.

            1. mcr-red*

              I know!!! I live in a 34,000 population city, and 1/3 to 1/2 of our arrests are NOT sex crimes! Something is going really wrong somewhere!

            2. fposte*

              I suspect that’s an indication of selection bias and her reason for sending them. This is a personal issue.

              1. Original Poster*

                It is selection bias on the part of the email sender. The crimes that get reported company-wide never include “boring” things like failure to pay child support or tax evasion or anything like that… even though I’m sure out of the 10,000+ employees here, somebody somewhere is committing those types of crimes too. The only crimes that seem to generate these emails are: assault*, theft, property damage, drug or alcohol related offenses, and sex related offenses, with all but the last one being reported in just a sentence or two. So I think the sender essentially applies a filter of “was this violent/scary/icky?” or “could this have appeared on the evening news?” when selecting the Crime Of The Month.**

                *Thankfully, it’s extremely rare that violence/physical assault is involved in any of these crime email blasts. I think there’s been maybe 2-3 of those in the last 5 years. Getting those kinds of emails every month would be a red flag to me personally.
                **Not really every month. There are months when no one gets arrested or convicted – or perhaps the sender is on vacation? – and then there are months when multiple crime reports go out.

                1. JSPA*

                  While tax fraud, non-payment of child support are not victimless crimes, they victimize “society,” “specific family member,” or both. I can see the utility in limiting the reporting to crimes that could put coworkers at risk in some way. (Though not letting fraud person in the door may actually be more important for the company?). “Don’t get a ride from Tanya / warn us if Ed is doing something behind the dumpster rather than checking it out yourself” are more relevant than, “don’t have a kid with Taylor.” Still doesn’t explain the level of detail.

                2. AnotherLibrarian*

                  This is really strange. I mean… really. And kinda horrid. I would hate to be getting these in my email inbox. I am so sorry this is happening to you.

                3. doreen*

                  As I mentioned upthread, my employer does a similar, daily email based on newsclippings – and it only reports certain arrests. I know staff have been arrested for other crimes – but the shoplifters/farebeaters/violators of court orders for whatever reason don’t get the ” a large state agency employee” tag that the rapists, fraudsters, assaulters do.

                4. Oranges*

                  Okay, this info to me has put it firmly in the camp of voyeuristic/shaming. I mean if you’re worried about employee safety you say something like: [name] might not be a safe person to be around (only, you know, tactful/CYA).

                  The fact that she lists only the salacious ones and the detail on the sexual ones is even worse? Yeah, something be wrong here.

          2. Amy Sly*

            This number blows my mind. I went to high school in a town of about 10,000 people. We did not have someone getting arrested for sexual misconduct every month. Substance abuse and related consequences of property damage, sure (we were on the outskirts of a major metro), but not this level of sex crime.

            Seriously, HR should be using this data to figure how to stop hiring perverts. Maybe look into what kind of institutional culture they’ve built that allows these kind of people to feel comfortable.

            1. Original Poster*

              You’d think so, but according to this website, there are about 4 forcible rapes per year for every 10,000 people in the US. (42.6 per 100,000 is the actual stat.) And that’s only counting actual rapes… Lord knows how many less violent sex crimes there are in the US per 10,000.

              So if my employer was a “state” unto itself and all us employees were residents of that “state,” the sex crime rate per capita would be below average for the US. I get 12 or so of these emails a year, one third to half are sex-related, so 4-6 sex crimes per year? We’d be somewhere between Florida and Nebraska on this chart.

              It’s sad, but it seems your hometown may have been way safer than the typical US town of 10,000. https://www.statista.com/statistics/232563/forcible-rape-rate-in-the-us-by-state/

              1. SecretGay*

                FYI, the vast majority of sexual offenses aren’t considered “forcible rapes”. So for example, solicitation of a minor and aggravated statutory rape are both not considered forcible rape, as are incapacitated rape, drug-and-alcohol facilitated rape, and verbally coercive rape. And none of those include other forms of sexual assault that wouldn’t be considered rape (such as groping, child molestation, etc.) In the pie graph of sexual violence, forcible rape is but a teeny tiny slice. Just something to keep in mind when doing these sorts of statistics.

              2. Agnodike*

                A town of 10 000 people is also demographically different than a company of 10 000 people, since a town usually contains a higher proportion of people who lack the mental or physical capacity to commit serious crimes due to being children, very old, bedridden, etc.

              3. Oranges*

                I gotta nit-pick because words matter on this one. “actual rapes” =/= forcible rapes.

                Rape is anytime a person does not want the sexual activity and the sexual activity occurs or when the person is not capable of actually stating a yes or no.

            2. wittyrepartee*

              Yeah, but a good percentage of the people in the town of 10K weren’t in a demographic known for high crime rates: babies, children, older folks.

              People of working age are more likely to commit crimes. I think that 15-25 is the prime crime age though?

          3. learnedthehardway*

            In your shoes, I’d be flagging this to my manager, along with enough examples of the different crime types to show that the sexual crimes are definitely receiving more detailed coverage. I’d be pointing out that it feels to me like someone is posting these reports in a voyeuristic fashion while using the other crimes as a cover, and that they are subjecting the entire employee population to participating in their voyeurism, and that you feel this constitutes creating a hostile work environment.

          4. Mama Bear*

            Did they start with this person’s hire? I wonder what the impetus was to start sending them. I would expect that employers would look around periodically, but to send a blast to everyone in the company is very weird. We once had a situation where a coworker was fired and only their immediate team was called into a meeting and informed. No one else needed to know what happened and generally the emails about someone’s leaving were along the lines of “so and so is no longer with Teapots Inc. as of x date.”

            I guarantee that someone in a company that large has been negatively affected. It would also bother me if there was no follow up. I know people who had charges dropped and if HR isn’t reporting that, then they are unfairly drawing negative attention to someone.

            I wouldn’t be comfortable with this at all.

          5. lurid details*

            OP, does your workplace conduct fingerprint-based background checks? A lot of systems are set up to auto-alert whoever requested the fingerprint with any new info that comes up on that person’s record/fingerprint. It’s through an automated system so it’s not tied to whether they’re still a current employee. The (intended) reason for this is schools/youth orgs where you’re checking volunteers to see if they can work with kids/vulnerable populations, and it would be key for the org to see any new convictions right away. I commented this elsewhere, but the phrasing of your examples reads very similar to these alerts. It could be a copy + paste. (Still doesn’t answer WHY they are sending these, but would easily explain why they have all this info)

            1. Original Poster*

              It’s not something that the majority of our employees have to do, but I can’t say for 100% sure if fingerprinting is not required for any employees here. We don’t work with vulnerable populations specifically. Some of our customers are members of vulnerable populations, but not in higher numbers than they are in the general population.

              But your theory does explain how they would be getting this information, if some jobs here really are subject to fingerprinting requirements.

        3. Elliott Smith Song*

          People in all lines of work are capable of committing all kinds of crime, including rape and child abuse. It’s really not that baffling to me if this is a massive company including former employees and customers in the emails.

          1. Oranges*

            This. We like to think everyone we meet is an okay person. But I work with a rapist. I don’t know who they are but in a company of a few hundred, one of them will be a rapist. Sadly they don’t go around with a sign or disturbing behavior. They’re normal humans. Except that they have decided that their desires trump my bodily autonomy. They are entitled to my body if they so desire.

            (I crunched some numbers with the only 2 self reporting studies I could find and came up with 1 in 60. I don’t think that’s right but I don’t think it’s that far wrong either.)

    3. Rexish*

      I was thinking the same. And how do they find this out? Like do they atually have a person who looks through records, cross references them to former employees and makes sure it’s a former employee and not someone with the same name?

    4. Massmatt*

      This is part of the problem I mentioned above. Even if the proportion of criminals is very low, highlighting it in a newsletter format like this gives it disproportionate prominence.

      The company seems to be searching very hard (among clients and former employees as well as current ones) for crimes to be associated with.

      1. Nessun*

        And what would a client think if they saw these emails, I wonder? If an employee sent this kind of thing to an external email and it got back to a vendor or a client or other non-employee…it’s such a bizarre thing to do, it would really make me wonder about that company/organization and how they ran things!!

    5. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      My question as well. Even in a large organization it seems like the percentage of criminal arrests is pretty high.

      1. Observer*

        Not really – not when you consider that it’s both current and some past employees AND some proportion of their customer base. Which is especially bizarre.

    6. mcr-red*

      That is what I’m wanting to know! Where on earth are they finding these people that there is a long list of clients/employees that are committing horrific sex-related crimes?

      If it was John Doe was arrested on DUI charges/drug charges/check forgery, I might think weird and move on. But it’s the fact that LW says they get graphic on the sex-related crimes – as in more than one – that I think they need to really reconsider something somewhere in hiring practices! Yikes.

    7. nnn*

      If I’m reading between the lines correctly, I think the organization’s clients make up a significant portion of their city’s population. So the set of “crimes committed by our clients” might be approximately the same size as, for example, “crimes committed downtown”.

  10. Squeeble*

    It’s all weird, but I am especially stumped by the fact that they do this about CUSTOMERS who got arrested, too.

    1. Original Poster*

      Yeah. I think the woman who sends out these emails includes customers who have committed crimes on company properties so that either
      (1) we call the police immediately if we see them again on any of our properties – usually they are banned from our property as part of the court judgment against them
      (2) we take comfort at knowing our employer is doing everything it can to reduce crime on its properties, many of which honestly are in sketchy areas.
      But the emails don’t actually say to do this, and I can’t imagine that, by the time these people get out of jail or whatever, any of us are going to remember their name or face if they wander back on property again. The only email blasts I personally recall are the sex ones which are particularly graphic, and even then the only detail I remember is the crime itself not who did it. “Oh there’s that restroom or grove of trees or bench or whatever where somebody did X.”

  11. Precious Wentletrap*


    (The “Florida Man” phenomenon is largely due to the state’s open records laws, which mean every dingdong who’s spent a night in lockup can make national news right away, even though every other state has its share of wacky arrests)

    1. Louise*

      Did you listen to the Citations Needed episode on this that I listened to on this? Because oh boy did that take the humor out of those articles!!

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I remember how every other article on Fark back in the day where someone got arrested for bizarre behavior seemed to be in Florida. I never knew there was a reason behind that.

  12. RC Rascal*

    In my community there was an elementary school principal arrested in a solicitation sting. School district shared details of the arrest with the parent/teacher community and principal was terminated. Charges were dropped due to police entrapment. Result: Lots and lots of lawsuits from principal against employer. Its best to reserve as many details as possible until a resolution to the charges.

    At my company a VP was arrested for a sex crime. He was getting ready to take early retirement; company asked him to retire 3 months earlier than planned with the same package. Company communications to employees was that he was arrested for a crime, without the details. We found out the rest of the details from the local news. This situation was made more bizarre because his son was already in prison for a different sex crime. VP and son had the same unusual name; it was a John Smith Jr and John Smith Sr situation.

    1. Fikly*

      I’d be super curious as to the outcome of those lawsuits.

      Because I think the district could argue he was fired due to the behavior – surely whether or not he solicited is not in question, it must all be on tape. He couldn’t be found guilty because of the entrapment, but the behavior definitely still happened. It’s like how OJ wasn’t convicted in criminal court, but they got him for millions in civil court.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Fikly–I checked the status of what has been reported about those lawsuits. First of all, the principal was charged with lewd and indecent conduct. He was acquitted of the charges in a bench trial. (The incident allegedly involved cruising for gay sex in a public park). School Board had already unanimously voted to dismiss Principal prior to acquittal. Principal has filed suit alleging the Board had (paraphrasing here) bias and reckless indifference towards his rights, along with reliance on false accusations, and alleged Principal was denied due process rights and legal representation prior to termination. Principal is also suing the Superintendent personally. Also at issue is the Principal had re-signed a multi year contract a few days prior to being arrested. Principal is seeking payout on the contract.

        1. Fikly*

          Interesting, thank you!

          So he wasn’t necessarily soliciting sex from a sex worker? The plot thickens…

          1. Else*

            He’d have a much stronger case if he wasn’t doing anything illegal or involving power imbalances. I bet he wins. We had a local tenured prof arrested recently for attempting to pay students for sex with Arby’s and gas gift cards. He was very indignant because they were over 18 (barely), but it was still illegal because he was offering goods for sex. If he’d just been trying to attract them with his own words, he’d not have committed a crime, though I bet the university would have tried really hard to get rid of him for hitting on students.

    2. But There is a Me in Team*

      So, PSA from a a criminal justice person here. Entrapment is a poorly understood thing. It doesn’t really exist unless the police force you to do something you’d never do otherwise. If an officer pulls me over and tells me “go visit that massage parlor so we can make a bust, or else I’m going to hook you up on a DUI” then yes, entrapment. “I thought I was sending nasty messages to a 13 yo who is actually a cop that I found on rando skeevesite” not entrapment. Likely principal had a good lawyer and was able to spin the media. Defense attys can talk to the media with virtually no consequences, and say anything they want. Police and DA’s are ethically and legally very limited in what they can share until a case has been resolved.

      1. But There is a Me in Team*

        OK well whoops, didn’t see all the comments. Entrapment seems like it happened here (also who cares if anyone is gay? Sheesh- it’s 2020) – but people should know in general, it’s very rare.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Yes but even in 2020 it’s still not generally considered okay to solicit sex from strangers in a public park.

  13. Twill*

    This….is just so strange. I have no advice or light to shed. I would be so uncomfortable getting these in my email at work ( or home!). It seems incongruous to any professional HR guidelines. I have worked at large companies, some of them government contractors, and of course have had the occasional email – “John Doe is no longer with the company and should not be on the premises. Please alert security yada yada…” But this is just so far out there….

    1. Original Poster*

      I would love it if my HR department shifted to more of a “John Doe is no longer with the company and should not be on the premises. Please alert security yada yada…” type alert system.

  14. Anabel*

    This is super weird, and potentially illegal in some states. I had a very similar issue recently. Someone on my team was arrested and released pending their court date. I found out about ti because one of that person’s family members sent me an email.

    I went to HR because they were arrested for a violent crime. HR, after talking to legal, said we couldn’t say or do anything. Likely even if they were convicted and had to serve jail time we’d offer them a leave of absence or let them choose to resign, they wouldn’t be fired. HR did encourage me to remind my whole team about internal safety resources, EAP, and group legal in case those resources would help my employee.

    So this employer is waaaay overstepping.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you’re in the U.S., that sounds like an overzealous HR department — there’s no law against an employer taking action after someone is convicted.

      1. Anabel*

        Yep, in the US and I know you are right. Overzealous legal department sounds about right knowing what I know about my company. There’s a long precedent of not taking action even when folks are convicted of crimes or have been harassing others for months or years.

        For what it’s worth, they’re official messaging is that people have a reasonable expectation about their personal lives and that there’s no evidence that this employee has any risk of violence at work. I feel comfortable owning that message if anyone on my team brings it up so I’m not going to challenge them on it.

        1. Massmatt*

          Frankly your HR department seems ridiculous. Suggesting that a violent convicted criminal would have to be offered a leave of absence during their imprisonment is bizarre. In their myopia to avoid maybe possibly being subject to a ridiculous and groundless lawsuit (again, from a convicted violent criminal) they are leaving themselves open to enormous liability if that known violent criminal lashes out at a coworker. Or customer! “No evidence this employee has any risk of violence at work” in this context is laughable, they are waiting for (requiring!) a tragedy before maybe considering taking action.

          1. Anabel*

            The arrest was for DV and he hasn’t been convicted. My male dominated field is pretty awful about men behaving badly toward women. Many of the large companies have had women report sexual assaults and sexual harassment and done nothing.

            It is interesting that in this thread everyone seems incensed by HRs response. When I posted in the open thread and said I was going to HR at least one person (maybe more I don’t remember) said talking to HR at all was overstepping.

            The HR person I talked to could also be wrong. She was pretty junior. But as she pointed out, normally the company wouldn’t have this information. They don’t do ongoing background checks on the folks that work here.

        2. hbc*

          I’m almost always the most trusting, least risk-sensitive person in the room, but I would be really wary of working for a company that thought that firing someone *currently serving a sentence for violent crime* was a step too far.

          I mean, I would actually consider rehiring if I was sure that he was being railroaded–but “Whelp, he only beats people up in his personal life so far, so let’s put him on sabbatical for the next 6-18 months”?! Good grief.

        3. Fikly*

          How many people who have been violent at work were deemed to be at risk of it before hand? I doubt it’s very many. Hindsight, sure, but before hand? By HR?

          If someone is violent anywhere, they can be violent anywhere. They are a risk.

          I mean, I believe you when you say your company won’t do anything, and if you have to toe the line, you have to toe the line. But understand that they have no ground to stand on by saying there’s no evidence of risk.

          1. Happily self employed*

            The most consistent common element between mass shooters has been a history of domestic violence, combined with an interest in guns and/or explosives.

        4. Observer*

          Your HR and legal departments are NOT “over zealous”. They are idiots who want to pretend that if they never take action on anything they can’t be held liable if something bad happens.

          If something bad happens, though, they WILL be facing publicity and probably some law suits – and they would probably lose.

          1. Anabel*

            They’ve faced international news and multiple lawsuits for similar behavior in the past and haven’t changed their approach.

            1. Happily self employed*

              That’s bizarre if they already know that approach doesn’t work. Makes me wonder what kind of crimes the decision makers have been doing…

  15. Holy Moley*

    This is strange however I was in a position at my last job where a coworker had been arrested for suspicion of sexual assault (on a coworker in a different building) and no one in my office told me. I frequently worked alone with him in an empty office. I was livid when I found out why he stopped coming to work (he was convicted and went to jail). So I guess I could see this as bizarre but having been on the other end, Id rather know so I can protect myself.

    1. Kiki*

      Yeah, I feel like there may have been some good intentions with this procedure: make sure other employees are aware of potentially dangerous coworkers. But it does seem like it has escalated and forgotten what the initial point was. I would be upset to learn a coworker I agreed work late with and/or grab drinks with after work was known by my workplace to be extremely violent. But there would be no reason for every person in every location of this company to be made aware of that. Also, the frequency and irrelevance of most of the alerts would make people more likely to filter or tune out any information that could actually be important to them.

      1. Original Poster*

        I would definitely support the people who directly worked with the employee/customer being alerted in some way of the danger(s) they pose. But a company-wide email blast seems… like an overblown way to do it. My company has well over a hundred work locations scattered across multiple states. It’s unclear that all of them need to know about the one guy who did something at one of them. (By all means though, if that person shows up at multiple locations doing crimes, then it becomes a pattern and we all should be warned about him/her to stop that pattern!)

  16. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I can imagine a half-dozen reasons why a procedure was set in place to do this, but the original rationale for it has no been lost in the mists of time:
    A condition for settling a lawsuit 20 years ago relating to an assault that happened on company property.
    A government transparency initiative or a mistaken application of blue-sky laws.
    A security clearance refresher-training practice that’s only partially followed now.

    Regardless, this ought to be questioned.

      1. OP's coworker, apparently*

        See my comments below for a bit more context.

        I’ve been reading AAM for years and it was kind of fun to recognize my workplace in a letter!

    1. Meg Murry*

      I wonder if it’s a college or university (or related to a college or university) and this is how they handle the notification required as part of the Clery Act. I worked at a college and they would issue warnings via email and by posting notifications on the doors of campus buildings – and while I understand the original intent behind the law, it was upsetting to see these notifications every time I walked in and out of the building, and that is from someone who does NOT have a history of assault or trauma – I can’t imagine how hard it would be for someone trying to get past an incident that had happened to them.

      I’ll post links and descriptions in my next post for what the Clery Act is and it’s history. Trigger warnings of details that may be in the links: assault, sex abuse and mass shootings, among others.

      1. Meg Murry*

        From Wikipedia:
        “The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses.”
        “The Clery Act requires institutions to give timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees. Institutions are required to publish their policies regarding timely warnings in their Annual Campus Security Report. The institution is only required to notify the community of crimes which are covered by the Clery statistics”
        “The law is named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University student whom Josoph Henry raped and murdered in her campus hall of residence in 1986. Henry’s murder of Ms. Clery triggered a backlash against unreported crime on campuses across the country.”

        From Clearycenter dot org:
        “The Clery Act requires protocols to notify the campus community in the event of an emergency or threat to campus. The ASR [Annual Safety Report] describes how the campus communicates about potential danger to students and employees (through two types of alerts called timely warnings and emergency notification). It is important to understand the process for notifying your campus community and what formats these take (text message, email, social media) so that you are sure to receive this important information.

    2. Some Sort of Management consultant*

      Number 1 sounds like a really good hypothesis and would explain the extreme weirdness of this.

    3. Not Me*

      Unless they are all related to one type of crime I think it’s highly unlikely its the result of a lawsuit condition. If they were all related to an assault, that would maybe make sense but it’s more likely the company would have to notify all new hires of what happened in the lawsuit, not all crimes ever committed.

      I’ve seen that happen before with both criminal and civil cases. But it’s always “we need to tell you about this one time we did something wrong and we got in trouble” not “we’re going to tell you about all the crimes OTHER people have committed going forward”.

      1. Karo*

        Regarding your first point – if it were related to a lawsuit, the settlement clause may have been “all assaults” and someone internally decided it was easier to do all crimes – or it originally started as only assaults and then someone not knowing the original intent got overzealous. I feel like people wind up doing weird things all the time because they know the action taken but not the reasoning behind it, so when it falls on them to take over the task they take it upon themselves to fill in the “gaps,” not knowing that the gaps were there for a reason.

        1. Not Me*

          Totally agree, I’m just saying it’s probably not what is actually in a lawsuit or criminal case resolution.

    4. LilyP*

      My guess is it started as a misguided attempt to cut down on gossip or wild speculation around employee terminations related to a crime — get all the facts out to everyone so there’s nothing “juicy” left for busybodies to amateur sleuth over and cause drama. Transparency is always good right? Plus someone decided it was easier to just spam the whole company than go through the effort of picking out all the groups that could possibly have had contact with someone. Then the whole thing became a habit (and likely was taken over by someone who gets a kick out of doing it!)

  17. GrumpyGnome*

    Are these updates all coming from the same person, or are they from a particular group in the company? If it’s one person, it might be easier to address than if it’s from say, HR. What they’re doing may be legal to do, but it feels icky. Additionally, this might be a situation that would be better to raise the concern as a group.

    As someone with PTSD from a sexual assault, getting detailed emails like that so often, with no warning, would be causing some issues for me and if it didn’t change quickly, I’d start a job search. I think in a company that size, there are plenty of people that have similar issues or even just, quite frankly, don’t want to read about that while on company time.

    1. Original Poster*

      It’s one person in HR sending out the emails. I believe she believes it’s part of her job to do so, because she’s also the person who typically sends out safety alerts in general, e.g. “the company is operating on an inclement weather policy today – essential employees should report to work as assigned” or “employees are reminded to log out of their computers every night following the data breach on X date.” So I can’t tell if she’s just the conduit for these emails (and someone else above her makes her send them) or if she’s adding these details to spice up what otherwise appears to be a boring role for her. I will say though, when she’s been unable to warn us about snow or computer hacking or whatever because she’s on vacation or whatnot, they’ve found someone else to send out those emails… but she’s the only one in our huge HR department who ever sends out the crime-warning emails, which makes me suspect these emails only get written because she wants them to be written.

      1. GrumpyGnome*

        I feel that if it’s a single person doing this, it might be easier to get it to end, unless she happens to be the head of HR or someone that is untouchable in another way. Honestly, I am disturbed that this is being done by someone in HR at all. I hope that you are able to put a stop to them, or at minimum not have the details. Good luck!

      2. Random IT Guy*

        I have commented this above as well – but this is misuse of company time and resources.
        Unless this is an explicit part of this persons job – it sounds more like ‘amusing oneself on company time’.

        And then all the other good reasons not to send out what amounts to a gossip email about crime..

  18. emmelemm*

    Yeah, I could definitely see if a crime occurred on company property, sending out a message saying, “Hey, this happened, in this location, please be aware and be vigilant.”

    But crimes that have essentially nothing to do with the company at all? Obviously, if a person is convicted of a crime, fire them, but just say “So and so no longer works here, the end.”

    Honestly: Good grief!!!

  19. Kai Jones*

    If it were my employer, I’d ask that they give a link in the email so that you get the details only if you click. Consent is a thing!

  20. Anonymous for this*

    I have a mildly dissenting opinion, coupled with a tinge of wtf-ery.

    I had a coworker who violated multiple laws and the employee handbook and was subsequently fired post-arrest but pre-conviction. Per the OP’s company, an email would have been sent about his actions, which would have absolved me from being the company pariah and perhaps my coworkers would have realized what actually happened instead of believing the now-convicted coworker’s stories.

    So from my own personal experience, the criminal newsletter sounds like a fantastic idea. From a realistic standpoint, all arrests are public information, so if you really want to know, you can ferret out the information yourself.

    1. Anonapots*

      In your case, information should have been sent out but didn’t need to include details. And certainly not everyone Needs to Know. However, it still doesn’t make the email newsletter about every arrest/conviction/etc. make sense.

    2. Observer*

      Not at all. Sure, if a current employee gets arrested, their coworkers probably need to know. But they rarely need to know all the details.

      And in this case, where information about employees, FORMER employees and ANY customer that they know of is going out to thousands of people who are geographically and logically distant, the whole thing is ridiculous.

  21. Still Here*

    Focusing on sex crimes? How is this different than creepy coworker reading sex crime convictions out loud?

    1. Koala dreams*

      Yeah, it sounds super creepy to me, with the detailed descriptions of sex crimes. People shouldn’t be subjected to that kind of thing at work, without a very good reason.

  22. Archaeopteryx*

    I’d say apples to onions this is the work of just one weird HR employee, rather than an explicit corporate policy.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Is the size of the company maybe part of it? Everyone thinks another department has requested it?

        1. Antilles*

          Very possible.
          The size of the company also means that there’s probably a lot less informal channels to deal with this. In a 200 person company, you could get the ball rolling on stopping it with a casual chat in the hallway or lunchroom with someone more senior or even just swing by the HR rep’s office and asking the purpose behind them…but in a 10k person company, it’s pretty much just a name at the bottom of the email with little to no connection except by going through channels.

          1. Original Poster*

            I think this is why the practice has lasted so long. The corporation I work for is really an amalgamation of several formerly independent companies as well as some functions that everyone in my part of the country agreed someone should be doing but couldn’t agree who should do them or didn’t want to pay/fund them properly. Think how Homeland Security was slapped together quickly and you’ll have an idea of how this quasi-governmental corporation was formed. (But rest assured, I don’t work for Homeland Security.)

            So it’s really unclear how to effect change in departments outside your own here. We didn’t even have a full company-wide org chart until last year. I had one for my division and then the rest of the company might as well have had “Here there be dragons” written on it for as little detail and as many errors as it contained. My division has existed here since the very beginning, but HR here is a mess of employees, some which have been here “forever,” others who came from much smaller entities that were swallowed up, still others who probably are collecting paychecks in error until accounting figures out that they should’ve been terminated in the last re-org. It’s very hard to get a clear answer from my HR on anything: whether it’s filling out your tax withholding form correctly (they neglected to take any state taxes out of my paychecks for a full 2 months one year which screwed me up at tax time) or how much vacation you’ve used up (last year I swear I somehow got 1.4 extra days of vacation that I wasn’t entitled to). The simplest questions to them take up to a week or more to get an adequate response, one which you must save to prove yourself right when suddenly a coworker gets a contradictory response to the same question.

            My original purpose for asking this question was to find out if I have a legal right to file something with HR requesting these emails be toned way down in their sexual explicitness. It sounds like maybe I do. But would that go through the EEOC section of HR, or…? I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody in HR itself knows who can tell this woman to revise her email blasts to be less salacious!

            1. fposte*

              AFAIK you have a legal right to ask HR just about anything you want. What you may be asking is if there are legal grounds behind the need to stop them, and I’m not sure they exist, at least not yet as described. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask them to stop! They don’t have to be illegal for you to request that.

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          Bystander effect. That makes sense! It might just take one person to complain for others to levy their complaints as well.

    1. bluephone*

      Whether it’s just one weirdo coworker, or an entire business unit (i.e. HR), my reaction is still the same: OP’s company is a fuh-reak, with a capital “F.”

  23. Jane2*

    If your employer truly thinks this information needs to be made available to employees, why not post it to company-wide intranet so those that want to read it can go read it and everyone else can enjoy their day?

  24. insert pun here*

    I work at a university, which is required to disclose crimes on/near campus (thanks to the Clery Act), meaning I regularly get emails about carjackings and sexual assaults — and even I think this is wildly over-the-top.

    1. SleepyBri*

      I was going to say that this seemed like a Cleary Act related activity. I also used to work at a technical college and we got reports with this type of information (not just “committed sexual assault” but full details) however these emails were sent in order to educate staff on what restrictions the students had and I think the intention of including details was to allow staff to appropriately intervene in case potentially concerning situations.

      I think what’s confusing me here is the intention doesn’t seem to be clear.

  25. Nanc*

    Wait, wait, wait–is this someone’s job? To comb arrest and conviction records and run a data match against current and former employees and customers? Or do they subscribe to a data service that sends them a daily report? Who budgets for this stuff?

    I can see sending out minimal info if they were a current employee or customer who were suddenly just gone, especially if they crime was committed against the company or on company property/time but otherwise it seems weirdly zealous . . .

  26. aebhel*

    Yeah, that seems really voyeuristic and weird. I work at a public library and we get notices of any registered sex offenders in the area, but company-wide emails with this kind of irrelevant detail just seems prurient. I think someone is just using this as a thin cover for spreading juicy gossip.

  27. RUKiddingMe*

    I don’t know…

    The examples OP gives are about sex crimes. She says there is less detail when they aren’t sexual in nature.

    I’m thinking that the company is doing this from a safety “hey this guy was arrested for/convicted of/pled to a sex crime.”

    If there was a way to know what it’s going to be about by the subject line then anyone who wants to could ignore them.

    Personally though, I don’t have an issue with a heads up about predators.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      But there isn’t too much to do when, “the crime occurred several states away, the guy no longer works here and everyone outside his department didn’t know him anyway”
      And the message doesn’t offer any safety advice or any information that makes the crime relevant to this work place and these people.
      I’d feel some support for an overzealous aspiring vigilante emailing updates to the local sex offender registry. It would be misguided and over reaching, but it would have an iota of relevance to the staff.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Maybe curate the emails to make them relevant to the location? Like I said, I don’t know…

  28. LCH*

    but why?

    whoever is compiling and sending out these emails isn’t busy enough. there must be better things for them to work on.

  29. Granny K*

    Personally I’d set up an email ‘rule’ where the email is auto filed in a folder so I don’t see it. Because eeesh….!

  30. Working Single Mom*

    I don’t usually condone starting a reply-allpocalypse. But this might warrant starting a reply-allopocalypse.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      reply-allpocalypse. If these emails serve no other purpose (and they don’t) they brought this word into my life. And I am happy.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Look up “email storm” on Wikipedia. I read that when I need a bit of a boost to my day.

        1. Amy Sly*

          When I was doing doc review, I came across one of these. A disgruntled employee of a multi-billion bank sent an email to the entire company … and included an image so big that it filled employees’ inbox capacity so they couldn’t receive any new messages.

    2. Not Me*

      That only works if the sender isn’t smart enough to bcc all their recipients. Which is great in some instances, but a downer in this situation.

    3. Original Poster*

      For her emails, I only have the ability to reply to her. The email list that she uses to blast the whole company is hidden from the rest of us, presumably in a BCC field, so that we can’t Reply All. :-/

  31. Daisy-dog*

    First read the headline as employeE, not employeR. And I thought, “Well that’s terrible, but ask them to stop.” But then I read the question. What. The. Heck.

    Do you get employee engagement surveys? Or any other time to provide feedback – even to your manager?

  32. cheeky*

    I’m curious to know how and why the company is tracking all of these people- like, do they have Google alerts set up for all of their employees or what?

    1. Antilles*

      I’m guessing it’s gotta be somebody in HR just being a busybody and following police reports, because it’s also customers and ex-employees; that’s way beyond the scope of the usual company policies on employees self-reporting criminal convictions.

    2. Arctic*

      Any government or quasi-government agency would require employees to alert their workplace immediately if arrested or otherwise implicated in a crime.

        1. Arctic*

          The OP clarified that the past employee was first arrested when with the organization so, of course, that would still be on their radar.

  33. What the*

    As someone who has experienced a sexual assault and has PTSD, I have no desire to receive emails regarding sexual assaults that contain excessive information and are not directly aimed at informing me so I can protect myself. So, it is way too much, and really a possible trigger, to randomly receive these emails regarding former employees and the such. Honestly, to receive an email like this on a bad day would probably lead to me needing to take unexpected time off so I could pull myself together and I would seriously consider resigning over something like this.

  34. Elizabeth West*

    *insert Nathan Fillion confused gif here* I just don’t get why the company is doing this. Is someone in upper management getting a thrill from it, or are they risk/lawsuit-phobic, or what?

    When I lived in California, I was sitting at home one night watching one of those news programs like Dateline. There was a story about sentencing for a crime based on certain arbitrary criteria (e.g. snake smuggling, with length of sentence based on the color of the snake) being challenged as too harsh. The featured case was that of a former coworker who had left my workplace a couple of years earlier. Yes, I did go to work the next day and say “Guess what I saw on TV last night? Remember Fergus?” It was just so weird to see him on TV, and we mostly agreed with the show’s conclusion that the law surrounding the sentencing should be revisited.

    But this was on a major network television program—no digging needed. While gossip at work can be problematic, it isn’t that surprising. For management to go OUT OF THEIR WAY to look this stuff up and share it with the entire company? That’s just really bizarre.

    1. Phil*

      That’s nothing. I was watching a char show on TV one afternoon-I worked nights-and on a program about a child molestation ring in San Francisco who comes on but one of my grade school classmates, part of the ring and-I’m not making this up-a Satanist! Part of Anton LeVey’s group. And his wife looked like Vampria.

  35. The other Louis*

    I keep trying to think of a place this kind of information would be relevant, and, as others have said, it’s getting information about the customers that makes no sense to me.

  36. Anon for This*

    cw: child abuse; death

    I’ve had coworkers in two different workplaces that were accused of child abuse. The first one, the baby died. My team worked closely with that coworker and the manager took us in a room and told us that “[coworker’s] baby passed away and she has been arrested for abuse”. As far as I know, only the teams that worked directly with that person were notified

    More recently, another employee at my current position was arrested for child abuse. I had no direct interaction with this person and was only vaguely aware of them in passing. Nothing was said to me/my team about it in an official capacity. I am not sure how it was addressed with his team.

    I’ll admit to googling both and following their cases, but I would have been seriously put off by emails like this.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      We had one arrested over child porn. From what I remember (I didn’t work directly with the guy and only really knew he existed because in my previous department before I transferred, I worked with someone who was constantly getting his emails because they shared the same last name) an email went out with the basic “Ramsay Bolton is no longer an employee” and didn’t get into details. It did make the local press, but again it didn’t get into as much detail as this lot.

      I don’t know how it was handled with those who did work directly with that guy, but nothing was really said to anyone else beyond the email. A couple of years later I did end up in that department, and there was an incident where a new apprentice was dealing with the mail, he was in his first couple of weeks and didn’t know many names yet, and a piece of junk mail arrived for Ramsay. When the apprentice innocently asked “Who’s Ramsay Bolton?” another coworker said “Oh, he left under a cloud!” and then proceeded to tell him exactly why. This did not go down well with our manager who walked in on it and let her have it for gossiping. (She never forgave the apprentice, which I always thought was unfair because he didn’t even know he’d asked anything worth gossiping about at the time.)

  37. I'm just here for the cats*

    This is wrong on so many levels. Especially the ones bout sexual assaults with all the details. This could be a trigger for those who have been assured. And if you have 10000 employees be there is likely to be a large amount of people who have been assured who do not need to get these emails.

    1. Auntie Social*

      You could also have an employee who is related to the victim. Can you imagine reading something like that at work? Your sister survives being raped and kidnapped, but then you get some salacious email about it? I might throw up.

      1. Salymander*

        Exactly. Including all the awful details of sexual assaults (but not the other crimes, which us so suspicious!) is really not something people need to read. Presumably, many people will know or suspect who the crime victims are, so these creepy, voyeuristic messages are likely to out the victims. This is irresponsible and cruel. Identifying a danger is one thing. I think telling people about a dangerous and violent person in their workplace is understandable, though must be done with caution. Revealing details of a person’s trauma without their consent is quite another thing entirely. OP, you are right to be so disturbed by this!

  38. Dave*

    What about in the context of a military branch? The Coast Guard for instance, has a Good Order and Discipline report that lists punishments and for what crimes. Though not the specific details of each incident.

    1. Sister Michael*

      I think that kind of report is really different, especially when it’s a government entity like the Coast Guard is. In those cases, it doesn’t feel like a bad idea to keep some anonymous statistics on how serious misbehavior or crime is dealt with, for similar reasons to the decision to make federal salaries public knowledge. The country as a whole is paying for this stuff and has a vested interest in some aspects of its day-to-day.

      My workplace does a quarterly review of the stats relating to disciplinary measures taken, as an accountability thing, but there are zero details. What we get are things like (all details purely hypothetical), “Q2: 17 time and attendance fraud cases. 1 incident of inappropriate workplace behavior. 3 incidents of misuse of company equipment” and then separately, “43 disciplinary actions were taken, ranging from oral admonishment to termination. 34 Oral Admonishments, 2 Suspension with Pay, 2 Suspension without pay, 4 resignation in lieu of termination, one termination.”

      So we get the information that disciplinary measures are taken, but there are never names, dates, or details. I’m sure there are people who go, “Oh, yeah, one of the people in our office was a “resignation in lieu of termination” statistic” but it’s not a matter of widespread gossip, just information about the fact that yes, this stuff does happen and it’s being dealt with.

  39. Sternoblaze*

    This is so very weird and it’s very concerning to think of the PTSD element of other coworkers. But if I could opt-in to these emails, I 100% would.

  40. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    No. There is no good reason to send the details of sexual crimes committed by ex-employees to staff.
    I would ask my manager if it was ok to delete without reading the details of sexual crimes committed by employees that arrive in my mailbox.
    Do they provide closure to work based crimes or safety situations that have people concerned? Nope.
    Do they offer information that is needed to be safe at work?
    …to keep clients safe at work?
    Do they offer general tips for keeping safe?
    Someone has a very twisted hobby and is pulling everyone into it. It seems prurient, because it is.

    1. Random IT Guy*

      Ah.. yes – the hobby.

      Something to do at home. Not on (paid?) company time.
      And using company owned/provided equipment.

  41. irene adler*

    I guess this beats the curiosity that arises when no one is ever told why employee X mysteriously no longer comes to work, but not by much. I would not want to have to read such things- especially the details.

    1. Itsamea*

      It absolutely does not. People’s benign, or even nosey, curiosity is tenable and to an extent expected regardless of the circumstance. This violates a ton of workplace norms and could create genuine harm for people who are accused but not convicted, who have trauma related to crime, and more. The two “options” are not comparable.

  42. Former newspaper lady*

    As a news reporter who used to cover cops this honestly reads like a very old-school crime reporter who was laid off a while back and is dealing with boredom in their new corporate job by reliving the glory days looking up PC affidavits and plea agreements at work.

    That’s the most charitable explanation I can come up with for this.

    It’s still wild though and should absolutely be shut down.

  43. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    This is beyond creepy and weird. I don’t have PTSD or trauma related to sexual assault and this level of details still makes me uncomfortable.

    I can see why you would alert someone’s team about a conviction or even an arrest but all 10,000 employees?

  44. Louise*

    This is so awful for so many reasons — triggering for employees, acting as if arrests are an indicator of guilt, reinforcing the stigma against people who’ve been arrested or in jail. When combined with the racial injustices of the justice system, this just makes my stomach hurt. I sincerely hope they stop this utterly bizarre system.

  45. Kate*

    Who is spending their work time looking up all these crimes of people who don’t even work there anymore???

    1. Random IT Guy*


      This person is doing their hobby on company time and on company equipment.

      A halfway decent employer would have some rules in “how to use the company IT / Hardware” and this would be one of those things against policy.

  46. nnn*

    I wonder if a useful alternative messaging might be that sending these emails is bad for the company’s reputation? That would probably depend on what their intention in sending them is.

    It’s just my first thought is that makes your company look really…crimey. Like, I’ve worked for organizations larger than yours, and I’m not aware of any colleague who has committed a crime, even though statistically someone probably has at some point.

    Also, if people get the impression that there’s that much serious crime going on, they might thing it’s no big deal to engage in a little light office supply embezzlement or have a swig of vodka before a big presentation.

  47. Em*

    Is there anyway these aren’t supposed to be comapny wide emails? Like a distro list mix up? I once discovered a separate distro list had been added to one used for a particular type of sensitive info. No one said anything before because the info still was related to their jobs. Most of the erroneous recipients didn’t know that they weren’t supposed to get those emails or how big a deal it was that they had.

    Of course, if it’s addressed to all staff or otherwise shows it was meant to go out to everyone, then this definitely isn’t the explination. Sigh.

    Huh, what do you know, i apparently still want to have faith in humanity. Thought I’d lost that long ago.

  48. Two Cents Here*

    I honestly think the rationale behind all of this probably relates to concepts of shame and deterrence — i.e. if we out everyone who is in the public record for behaving badly, maybe people who are prone to behaving badly will choose not to work here because we will all shun them. I’ll bet it has nothing at all to do with employee safety or limiting liability.

  49. Free Meercats*

    “[A] quasi-governmental corporation” has me thinking higher education and someone has misread the requirements of the Clery Act, probably a couple of decades ago and it’s been policy ever since.

    That said, my advice to the OP is something Alison seem to have missed, “Stop reading the emails!” When you see what the email is, delete it. You only know the lurid details because you have read the emails. If they all have a similar subject, set up a rule to shunt them to a folder you can glance at once a week to be sure nothing you need got grabbed, then delete the entire contents of the folder. If they don’t and you start to read it, resist the understandable temptation to finish it and delete it. You have agency here, use it.

    And do mention this to someone who may have the ability to change it.

  50. Angelinha*

    I wonder if there was a lawsuit or audit something that resulted in them having to agree to communicate this. I could see this particularly around sex offenses, especially since it’s a quasi-governmental company – the corrective action being something like “agency must notify all employees of any crimes committed by coworkers” as like, a safety thing? I agree it’s bizarre but my first thought was that some authority has required them to send these updates, not that they’re just choosing to do it internally.

  51. Keymaster of Gozer*

    I know I had a coworker once who delighted in telling us about any and all serious car crashes he’d heard about happening to staff members (firm was about 30,000 employees at the time) in lurid detail, but that was because he derived a real thrill from doing so.

    (And stopped when I said it was exceptionally stressful for those of us who’d been permanently disabled from near fatal car crashes. Consider your audience!)

    But this? Unless the firm’s entire comms team are seriously into true crime stories I am at a loss to understand their emails. Especially sending out the stuff before any trial.

  52. bluephone*

    The more I think about this, the more I think the reason this “policy” came into play is because the sender (senders?) are probably committing similar crimes on a regular basis and think that by inundating everyone with this insanity, no one will ever cotton to what they’re up to.

  53. hbc*

    It sounds like the best possible way to get this changed is to go to the right venue* and write something along the lines of, “I assume emails of this nature are intended for the safety of employees. However, the biggest violation in my workplace at the moment is being forced to read details of sex crimes in order to find if there is any security action I should take, especially when the exact nature of the crime isn’t relevant to the fact that I shouldn’t have further contact with John Smith from Springfield. I just don’t think as a [job title] I should have to read about public masturbation in an official company email.”

    *Might be the emailer, might be her boss, but a company this big probably has some way to register anonymous complaints.

  54. MicroManagered*

    What kind of company has *that* many sex offenders working there that there’s a monthly newsletter about it?

  55. CodeWench*

    I wonder if these emails are really supposed to be going to a more limited number of employees and it’s some kind of accident that the OP is getting them. Or the sender misunderstood who they were supposed to be distributed to and no one has ever noticed it’s everyone in the company.

  56. Curmudgeon in California*

    My workplace is a university. They send out community crime alerts about crimes committed on campus to all students, staff and faculty. These are sent out with: “This timely warning message is being sent to you in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act.”

    As I understand it, universities in my state are required to send out notifications of certain types of crimes committed on campus – including sexual assault, robbery, mugging, and burglary. They are plainly labeled as such, and if I don’t want to know, I can ignore them.

    It is essentially a workplace safety thing, so people can’t say “I wasn’t warned/told/advised about problems” in a lawsuit. If you get six emails about a streak of car burglaries, you can’t say that no one told you that people were going around breaking into cars on the main campus.

    I don’t mind the notifications. They seldom contain names, but they do contain locations and circumstances, as well as warnings on how to avoid being a victim.

    1. Natalie*

      This sounds like a quite different thing, though? They’re not sending out notifications of certain crimes committed on the property, they seem to be sending out notices about any crime committed by an employee, regardless of location. And notices about convictions are going to be well after the fact, so they’re not Cleary Act timely warnings.

  57. OP’s coworker, apparently*

    I’m not the OP, but I work at the same place – I recognize the language of the email. I think we get them because all employees get emails of all press releases and media advisories, and for various reasons we put out releases about these kinds of major crimes. In the case of employees it’s because we are legally obligated to make some kinds of internal investigations public under some sort of transparency laws, and in the cited case the ex-employee was travelling on company business at the time of the crime so there was an investigation. In the case of customer arrests and convictions it’s a mix of asking everyone to be on the lookout, letting people know that a suspect has been apprehended, informing the media about what happened in our public facilities, etc.

    But yeah, I also had a WTF reaction to the out-of-the-blue email about the former employee. They aren’t usually quite that bad.

    1. OP’s coworker, apparently*

      Oh, and maybe 90% of these are about customer crimes, not employees. We have our own police force (kind of like a university) so some of this is essentially their press releases being cc’d to all employees.

      1. it's me*

        Not to try to out your company or anything but is there something unusual about the customer base or any other reason why this might make sense? I know you said higher up that it’s about letting people know someone’s been arrested, but it still seems weird.

        1. OP’s coworker, apparently*

          The press releases do make some sense. We got a huge amount of flak a couple of years ago for a delay in notifying the public of a rape that occurred on our property. And transparency around crime and safety in general is important to us for various legitimate reasons – our facilities are broadly used by the public.

          The fact that we all get every press release by email is more debatable.

          1. OP’s coworker, apparently*

            To try to give some perspective without outing my company, think about the public outcry if officials didn’t tell the public about major crimes happening in a library or state park campground or city-owned parking garage or public school system, or in some cases by employees of such facilities. We kind of have to put out some sort of statement if we don’t want to be accused of keeping secrets.

            Still super jarring in the inbox, though.

            1. LilyP*

              Thanks for the update, this makes it make a lot more sense. My college caught sort of similar flak while I was a student for a not sending a campus alert for a potentially dangerous situation, and we sure did get those alerts for every suspicious package and chem lab accident thereafter! Once you’ve been bitten by not sharing enough the motive to err on the side of oversharing is strong.

    2. WellRed*

      Quite a few comments are about why this employer has multiple instances of employees engaged in criminal behavior. Any thoughts on what’s going on there?

      1. Cat*

        It’s 10k people plus customers plus apparently some amount of land accessible to the public. Doesn’t seem that weird.

      2. Helena1*

        If as the OP’s coworker states it is 90% service users who are being arrested, it may well be to do with the section of society who make up their service users (maybe she works in probation?)

        1. OP’s coworker, apparently*

          Not probation, but we have millions of people use our facilities each year. Our crime rate isn’t ideal, but I think it’s pretty typical for our industry.

          Most of the employee crime is much less lurid than this example and involves someone being fired for some sort of fraud or financial crime, though there’s been at least one other completely left field example in my time here. It generally needs to be connected to the company – the guy in the OP’s example was arrested on a work trip and used his company-issued phone to solicit. It seems reasonable to me that the company tracked the case and did an investigation.

      3. LilyP*

        If it’s really about one a month and ~90% of those are non-employees that’s only around one employee a year, which isn’t that shocking out of 10k employees total. Plus if their “customers” includes anyone who commits a crime in their public space that’s potentially a very large number of people, “section of society” aside. I’m pretty sure there are, for example, public parks in my large city which see well over one crime a month, but that doesn’t reflect poorly on employees of the parks department.

  58. Arctic*

    This isn’t as strange as everyone is making it out to be. This is a quasi-government organization and transparency is supposed to be key. Maybe it has tone issues but there are perfectly legitimate and understandable reasons to have a “we are upfront about everything” attitude in such an agency.

    1. LilyP*

      Yeah I think people are overreacting, especially given the update from the co-worker. This would be shocking for a small or mid-size private sector office environment, but for a huge, quasi-governmental agency with publically-accessible space there could be reasons to default to extreme transparency. If the OP finds these upsetting they should delete on sight, create a filter, or ask if there’s a way to opt out.

    2. old curmudgeon*

      I work for a large government agency (state, not fed), and not only are there no requirements for agencies in our state to publicize arrests of current or former employees, the state requires an Open Records Request just to release the names of disciplined/terminated state employees. Not what they did, mind you, just their names.

      This includes situations where an employee was placed on administrative leave for over a year before termination, cases where an employee was caught red-handed hauling out a car-load of agency property, instances of assault, and others – no matter what the cause, it is a strictly Need-To-Know basis, and the state pretty much takes the position that nobody needs to know, either within the agency or outside of it.

      Granted, every state has their own policies, and the feds have theirs, but it is a bit of a stretch to imply that government, including quasi-governmental orgs, is always transparent with regard to alleged and/or proven criminal activities of employees.

  59. Jennifer*

    I realize there are more than 10,000 people that work for this organization but it’s odd to me that this many people are getting arrested for very disturbing crimes.

    I also agree that people are innocent until proven guilty, however in the cases of sex crimes I tend to be a bit biased toward believing the victim. Doesn’t mean I’m not open to evidence that proves otherwise. With that bias in mind, getting those notices all the time would be very troubling and anxiety-inducing. Are they not screening these people beforehand?

  60. Scrooge McDunk*

    This is just… mind boggling.

    At OldJob, we had an employee that was universally beloved. He was a sweet, old, Wilfred Brimley-looking grandpa kind of guy that we all thought was just wonderful. Not long after he retired he was arrested (and later convicted) for buying a kidnapped 14-year-old boy who had been chained in a basement for weeks, for sexual purposes.

    Before the story broke, a company-wide email was sent around that basically said “You’re going to see some devastating things about Wilfred in the news soon. It’s shocking, and if you feel you need to talk to someone about this let us know.” No salacious details, just an attempt to prepare us for the news and offer support if needed. I have a lot of complaints about OldJob, but the way they handled this isn’t one of them.

  61. freedlabrat*

    I would be really upset and have a hard time reading this regularly.

    If you don’t want to read them you can at least set a mail filter and send them to their own filter… this is insane

  62. Leela*

    I bet these e-mails are a real treat for employees who have been on the receiving end of sex crimes…

  63. QuinleyThorne*

    I think what gets me the most about this is the amount of detail; if it’s for public safety, that’s fine, but generally the rule of thumb is to stick to the “who what when where why”, and omit the “how”. Even if this person has the best of intentions, I really don’t see how a super-explicit explanation of how the crime happened is helpful to employees–from what it looks like, the only thing it’s doing is making people needlessly uncomfortable.
    Our employer sends out similar emails in regards to crimes committed, but they’re always advisory warnings for things that might put enforcement staff in danger while they’re on the job (i.e. – “[Agent] in [place] found [dangerous substance] on a suspect during a routine stop” or “[Agent] was shot during attempted arrest by [Suspect name, descriptor], suspect is still at large”). The industry we regulate also frequently intersects with adult-oriented businesses, so we get the occasional email about business that were shut down as a result of human trafficking investigations, but those also go to our public email list, and are posted on our public website, so there’s no way they’d get away with sending out something like that and not receive blowback.

  64. Lonely Monster*

    Personally, I find this practice disruptive and demoralizing. Why would employees want this information about ex-employees or customers?

    Getting monthly news articles about the misdeeds and crimes of people who use to work for my employer and/or where customers, seems like management is gloating at their misfortune and sending a message to current employees that “we would do this to you”.

    Seems more like an intimidation tactic

  65. Hey there hey*

    The only explanation I could see for this would be if they were trying to keep gossip and rumors to a minimum by providing factual information, but the size of the company makes this explanation suspect. My (toxic) old job, which I’ve written about in the comments before would hire just about anyone, so there were some colorful characters, and when they disappeared, often because they’d been arrested, the rumor mills went wild. I heard some ludicrous exaggerations and outright falsehoods related to coworkers’ supposed run ins with the law. However, this was within a group of ~75 employees in a facility with fewer than 200 total, so everyone pretty much knew everyone else, at least by sight. Once you get up into the 10,000 employee numbers, they’re basically giving people information they don’t need about complete strangers.

  66. Supreme of Salem*

    I seriously doubt this has anything to do with legal issues or safety of employees and workplace. This sound like someone in your company is way too obsessed with true crime stories and workplace gossip and has found a way to combine both together in a rather shameless way.

  67. raincoaster*

    Oh my GOD, how do I get on that mailing list? INFINITELY more interesting than the Q3 results.

  68. Jdc*

    This is absurd for so many reasons. One, why? Two, people can get arrested for something and not be guilty. You can watch a video you believe the be an adult and be charged if it ends up being a minor. Now would these charges stick for a single video? Probably not, but this company has already ruined that persons professional life. You can be arrested for not paying a parking ticket if it goes on long enough (almost happened to me, ticket I never saw right before I moved as it was taken off or blew off my car..license ended up suspended and I didn’t even know until i went to get a new one in my new state. I guess whatever they sent didn’t get to me…how, no idea but it didn’t because I assure you I’d pay a parking ticket for $20 over dealing with that. The judge who handled it was livid it went that far, especially since my new license had my address so they could easily find me). Point is, it’s so bizarre. People don’t deserve to have their reputations ruined. Every single person makes a mistake at some point. A legal mistake. I assure you. Luckily most of them are minor and we don’t get caught but to harass someone about any little thing that could happen is odd.

    1. raincoaster*

      Because I’m a crime reporter. This stuff fascinates me.

      Why the push-back on giving people the reputations they deserve.

  69. DCLite*

    Oh no, I feel like I know this guy. Not specifically this guy, but “this guy.” I would take bets that it’s one individual, who hasn’t retired yet to drive everybody crazy on his local Neighborhood Watch, who started this up and maybe it was weird and then nobody stopped him and it had gone on for too long and now….here we are?

  70. Random IT Guy*

    I have commented in replies as well but:

    This ‘hobby’ is misuse of company property (the IT infrastructure is not in place for ones twisted hobby).
    It`s a misuse of company time (i doubt the sender does this in ‘free time’ or during a lunch break)

    Then there is the impact it can have on survivors of violence (I HATE that word, as it implies it`s special – and that many people do not survive). It could trigger an anxiety attack, undo therapy received or a complete meltdown.
    Also, it will create an atmosphere in a company of distrust, and a general feeling of uneasiness.

    If I were a manager there – this would be stopped.

    The only thing that would have any relevance is ” Jane was robbed at (office parking) – please be careful if you are walking to your car in the dark” – but any details beyond this seems excessive, insensitive, and frankly almost toxic.

  71. Laurelma01*

    I’m running with the assumption that who ever is requiring this, or sending it does not have enough to do at work. Idle hands, idle minds. I’m including this individual’s actions as being the office gossip.

    I get too much in my email in box as it is, this would be upsetting. Too much detail for sure, etc. This also opens up the company for libel if what is reported is incorrect.

    One thing to report that a problematic employee, with a history of problems at work, has been arrested for their actions in relationship to their employment. Be it assault, stealing at work, etc. This employer/employee is taking this a step too far in my opinion.

  72. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    On my first reading I thought it was OP’s colleague who was sending these out. It was weird.

    When I realised it was an official company communication it became a lot more weird.

    I’ve had no experiences that would make me unusually sensitive to this type of thing but I would still find it disturbing and upsetting. I don’t want to read about violent crimes at the office, especially not if they’re indistinguishable at first glance from “update to the canteen menu” or “performance reviews starting next week”.

    If these emails have a purpose it should be made clear in the email (“if you have any information about this crime please contact X” or “security around the main gate is being upgraded”). Otherwise WTF, stop sending them.

  73. Jessica Fletcher*

    With the extreme detail of sex crimes, I would feel harassed. These have almost certainly been sent to employees who are themselves survivors of sexual assault or sexual abuse. It must be jarring to constantly be reminded that their own coworkers have committed the same crimes.

    I work for a large company that has had gun violence on campus, and they send out a very sensitively written email where the primary goal is to tell you how to access services (like counseling, etc) in the aftermath.

    This bizarre retelling in salacious detail is gross and totally lacks compassion for how coworkers might actually be affected by knowing this info and if they need to hear it from their employer.

  74. Hapax Legomenon*

    This letter is maybe a bit too unintentionally revealing. I’m no brilliant detective, and I was able to work out OP’s place of employment. Their place of employment has also been recognized by one coworker already. If OP is concerned about potential blowback at work, I would recommend removing the quoted part…and I’m hoping that I am not making the problem worse by highlighting it, but as a quasi-government employee myself (definitely not working for the same group) I would want to be warned if I could get in trouble at work for something posted online.

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