The Greenwich Time's resident Democrat operative, Ken Borsuk, is out today with a sympathetic report on the union dispute at the heart of the Chris von Keyserling goosing incident at Nathaniel Witherell.
Union officials are accusing management of The Nathaniel Witherell of not acting appropriately in response to an alleged groping incident involving an RTM member and a nursing home employee.
Bill McCormick, business manager for Laborers` International Union of North America Local 136, which represents the alleged groping victim, said she complained to nursing home management immediately after she allegedly was assaulted by longtime RTM member Christopher von Keyserling on Dec. 9.
That should have activated a protocol that sent the matter to the town’s Human Resources Department, McCormick said. Instead the employee was told to call the von Keyserling at home and work out the issue between the two of them, the union rep said.
The employee refused to do that and brought the matter to HR herself the following day. She has not returned to work since the alleged incident. McCormick said she does not feel she has the support of the Witherell’s management.
“Our member has been victimized a second time by how this has been handled by The Nathaniel Witherell,” McCormick said.
Von Keyserling has been charged with fourth-degree sexual assault after he allegedly grabbed the female employee “in the groin area” after an argument between them. Von Keyserling, who has plead not guilty to the charge, is due in court again on March 8.
Calls to the town Human Resources Department were referred to Barbara Heinzs, executive assistant to First Selectman Peter Tesei.
“We have not received any request for restoration of the employee’s leave,” Heins said. “Because of the assault, the town gave the employee nearly six weeks of paid administrative leave before the employee took a leave of absence.”
“I don’t have an issue with how this is being handled by the town,” McCormick said. “This has nothing to do with the selectman’s office or the Human Resources Department or the Greenwich Police Department. They have all handled things appropriately. My biggest problem is how this was handled at The Nathaniel Witherell. It was not handled as it should have been and when confronted about it, they denied it.”
McCormick said the union and employee do not have confidence in Witherell’s management. But her leave, sick and vacation time will expire in April.
“We’re exploring other avenues so the member can come back to work,” McCormick said. “We’re discussing things with the Human Resources Department.
“I want my member to be able to come back to work and feel safe,” McCormick said. “Overall I don’t think people are aware of what something like this does to an individual. You need to feel safe in a work environment. You need to feel supported. We don’t feel that’s happening here.”
Understand that von Keyserling is not an employee of Nathaniel Witherell - in fact, I have no idea why he was even there that day, but the organization's human resources department has no connection or authority over him. Furthermore, because he's been forbidden from stepping foot on the premises, it's unclear why the "victim" feels so unsafe there that she is unable to report for work. Whatever one might think of von Keyserling's act, it has nothing to do with the town or us taxpayers, who are being soaked for a six week paid leave (and counting) for his alleged victim.