“When the owners of the company I work for hired him, they obviously failed to thoroughly check his background.”

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Q: I recently discovered that one of my co-workers is a registered sex offender. This creep was previously convicted of second-degree sexual assault on a female. When the owners of the company I work for hired him, they obviously failed to thoroughly check his background.

I have worked with convicted felons and believe they should be allowed to continue with their lives after paying their debt to society. However, I’m so disgusted by this potential rapist that I can hardly stand to be around him. Even though I would love to get rid of the guy, I’m conflicted about telling the owners. What’s your opinion?

A: I completely understand your visceral reaction to this colleague’s questionable past. One complicating factor, however, is that some registry offenses are less serious than the description implies. For example, a teenager might have a consensual relationship with a minor near his age. Although this is a common occurrence, it is nevertheless illegal.

So before labeling your co-worker a “potential rapist,” you need more specific facts. Since convictions are a matter of public record, details could probably be obtained by contacting the clerk of court in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. But regardless of the circumstances, management should definitely be given this information.

As employers, the owners are legally responsible for both the safety of others and proper treatment of this employee. To make an informed decision about his continued employment, they will need to seek out legal advice, as numerous state and federal laws may apply. And for your own protection, they must agree to keep your identity confidential.

Of course, you may find that the owners have already assessed the situation and decided to give this guy a chance. But if they were clueless about his record, a comprehensive background check should immediately be added to this company’s hiring process.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.