The Consequences of Inaction

Over the course of her employment, Riley Whitelaw expressed to Walgreens management her concerns about coworker Joshua Taylor Johnson. Whitelaw (17) became uncomfortable after Johnson (28) made “advances toward her.” Tragically, Whitelaw’s body was found in the breakroom when she did not return from a work break, and Johnson was subsequently arrested under suspicion of first-degree murder. In the weeks leading up to her death, Whitelaw requested a change to her work schedule to avoid working alongside Johnson.

Business Takeaway: While, thankfully, such a tragic outcome is uncommon, some of the underlying circumstances (particularly related to Walgreens’ inaction) are not. This was not a simple case of a stray remark—in this case, the employee raised concerns over a span of several months. Aside from the tragic circumstances of this case, business owners must also consider their own liability. Do your employees feel comfortable raising their concerns? Do they feel heard?