A Mother Earth’s Storehouse worker has been arrested after he harassed his Jewish coworker with anti-Semitic comments.
“You’re in the gas chamber now,” William Sullivan told his coworker as he turned off the lights of a walk-in cooler the lady was working in.
The 21-year-old, from New York, then went on to call the woman a “f***ing Jew.”
Sullivan has now been charged with a misdemeanor count of aggravated harassment, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.
The store has fired the man in the wake of the troubling incident which happened on March 11. While the woman who was harassed, Sarah Shabanowitz, left the job soon afterward.
According to the store, both Shabanowitz and Sullivan were working as part-time employees and no confrontation ever took place between them prior to this incident.
New York’s Democratic Governor announced the charge in a joint press conference with state police Superintendent Keith Corlett, the Times of Israel reported.
“What makes it worse, frankly, is that this is not an isolated situation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have been seeing a growing number of anti-Semitic activity.”
The incident came to spotlight after the victim’s mother, Jackie Winder Shabanowitz, shared it in a social media post on March 15.
“So my daughter works at Mother Earth’s Storehouse in Kingston. She was hired and worked in produce. On Monday, a coworker turned the light off in the produce cooler and told her ‘you’re in the gas chamber’ then called her ‘a f***ing Jew,'” she wrote on Facebook.
“Sarah went to management, they told her not speak about, removed her from produce which she has been for a year, and put her on the register,” Jackie continued.
“The coworker was forced to apologize but still has his job in produce,” she added.
“On Wednesday, the coworker harassed her again to which she reported to management. She has been in discussion with management every day since the incident.”
“Management has completely failed, As a Mom, what should I do?” she concluded.
Following the backlash on social media, Mother Earth’s Storehouse owner Kevin Schneider released an apology, promising they would ensure that no such incident happens again in their store.
“The Management Team at Mother Earth in Kingston would like to again apologize to our community for the immense upset that has occurred,” Schneider posted. “We have been rooted on our community for over 40 years and have never incurred something such as this.”
“There has been a lot of misinformation being shared on social media,” he wrote. “At this time, this situation has moved out of our hands, as the two employees are no longer working for us.”
“We are taking what we feel are the necessary steps to insure that situations like this never happen again. We have hired a Human Resources company to help us with any future situations that could occur.”
“We have mandated our entire staff to complete a training course to prevent these types of instances in the future. Our Management Team will also undergo additional training courses on how to properly handle any future HR situations,” he concluded.
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