CLEARWATER, FLa. - Facing racial slurs, even locked in a freezer, Arunya Rouch cried while her husband, Thomas, told jurors the workplace bullying got so bad, he finally confronted the culprit.
"Asked him, I said, 'Greg, why can't you leave my wife alone? She's never done anything to you. Just leave her alone.' He looked at me, laughed, and walked away," Thomas explained. "She would come home and say, 'Why won't he just leave me alone?'"
That man was Greg Janowski, the co-worker Rouch admits she shot and killed outside a Tarpon Springs Publix in March 2010.
"As far as I'm concerned, they played Russian Roulette with his life," Thomas told jurors Wednesday. "This is the end result."
It's not an inevitable result, however, according to employment attorney Ryan Barack.
"Because a rational person doesn't shoot their boss if they're being harassed," Barack explained. "Shooting your co-workers is never a solution, never the appropriate response."
Barack's represented thousands of disgruntled employees, some even enduring harassment like the kind Rouch claims she faced while working at Publix with Janowski.
"It can have a horrible impact on the employees. It's very traumatic," Barack said. "It makes them feel like they're not valued people, not valued employees."
If it's true, as Thomas Rouch claims, that Publix did nothing when confronted with the alleged abuse, Barack says the grocery chain may face a hearing itself someday, centering on whether it could've or should've protected Janowski from Rouch, or Rouch from Janowski.
Still, Barack believes it's unlikely Rouch would win any suit, given the way she chose to fight back.
"They should've investigated those allegations. if they were found to be true, they should've taken prompt action," Barack said. "Publix may have done something wrong in the way they treated her. The solution she chose is never the right option."
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