23-year-old says other employees bullied him during work
By Mara MacDonald – Reporter, Derick Hutchinson
NEW BALTIMORE, Mich. – Kroger is investigating after an employee with autism at the New Baltimore store said he was being bulled and quit his job.
“The thing is, if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say it,” Giovanni Trapani said. “Point blank.”
Trapani, 23, said what happened to him at his job in New Baltimore went beyond mean comments. He said he has autism and was thrilled to be hired at the Kroger store 11 months ago. It was his first job.
“He was so excited,” said his mother, April Franchy. “The school was excited. They even wrote up a special thing about how he has come so far.”
Trapani was hired as a bagger, and the first few months were great. But he said it didn’t last.
“It wasn’t every courtesy clerk who was mean to me,” Trapani said.
But he said plenty of others spoke to him as though he was a 3-year-old. He said they put anti-theft stickers on his clothing so that every time he walked in or out of the store, he would beep.
“He would be afraid when he went to get the carts they were going to beat him up,” Franchy said.
Trapani said he couldn’t take the derogatory remarks anymore, so his mother pulled him out of the situation.
His sister found a nasty post from one of his former co-workers on social media. Kroger was made aware of the situation and issued a response.
“An investigation started immediately when the situation was brought to our attention,” Kroger spokeswoman Rachel Hurt said. “We have a zero-tolerance to bullying within our stores. All actions will be handled per our social media policy guidelines and policies within our employee handbook.”
Trapani said he’d like another job, but his mother said the experience at Kroger stressed him so much that they had to up his medication. She wants him to take a break for a few months.
“You treat people with respect,” Trapani said. “You don’t treat them like they’re a pile of dirt.”