Kroger is responding to allegations that a worker with special needs in Michigan was bullied so badly he had to quit.
Gio Trapani was a courtesy clerk at the Kroger on 23 Mile Road in New Baltimore, bagging groceries, and getting carts from the parking lot.
That all ended after he said he started getting bullied by co-workers. He said it went on for months.
“I wanted him to learn how to talk to people, treat people. Be out in the community. Be able to take care of himself,” Gio’s mother April Francy said.
After a bit of searching, the 23-year-old Gio, who has autism, landed a job at the New Baltimore Kroger last April.
“I was grateful. I was grateful,” he said.
“He was very excited. It took us a long time to find some place that would actually hire an impaired person,” his mother says.
It all went well for the first 3 months or so, then things started to change.
Gio says he was getting mean comments - cashiers telling him to not bag their lane, sensors placed in his jacket for them to go off at the door, and this:
“One of the baggers, he called me and another impaired young man a homosexual couple,” Gio said.
Gio’s mom April said enough was enough. After raising the alarm multiple times, she was pulling him out.
That news allegedly prompted more ridicule - like a social media post mocking Gio’s departure, saying, “by estimates, due to decreasing productivity since his resignation, the doors will be closing for good in the next 30 days.”
Gio and his mom said they just want the bullying to stop, not just for Gio, but the other special needs worker getting harassed as well.
“I would just like them to treat people with respect. The dignity they deserve. It’s not right. Some of those individuals can't defend themselves and can’t speak for themselves and tell anybody that these bad things are going on,” Aprils said. “That other individual, he has no way of communicating that this is going on and still works there and his parents probably have no idea. They probably just want him to work, you know.”
She added, “What a mistake I made. And I wont make the same mistake again as a parent. I let him down.”
Kroger has released the following statement:
An investigation started immediately when the situation was brought to our attention. 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. There were no previously recorded instances previously. Again there is currently an open investigation underway. Our company is a supporter of defeat the label in an effort of anti bullying and last year won 3 awards in support of hiring those with special needs and providing them growth in their future. Again this will be handled.