A 21-year-old New York man has been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of aggravated harassment, announced Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on Friday.
Mother Earth’s Storehouse employee William Sullivan allegedly turned off the lights of a walk-in cooler his Jewish coworker was in on March 11, told her "You’re in the gas chamber now" and called her a "f***ing Jew."
Sullivan was fired from Mother Earth’s Storehouse in the wake of the incident. The woman he allegedly harassed, Sarah Shabanowitz, quit. According to the business, both Sullivan and Shabanowitz were part-time employees and there were no other reports of suspect behavior between the two prior to the cooler incident.
Cuomo joined state police Superintendent Keith Corlett during a press conference announcing the misdemeanor charge, The Times of Israel reported.
"What makes it worse, frankly, is that this is not an isolated situation," said the Democrat. "We have been seeing a growing number of anti-Semitic activity."
Jackie Winder Shabanowitz, the alleged victim’s mother, posted about the incident to Facebook on March 15.
"So my daughter works at Mother Earth’s Storehouse in Kingston. She was hired and worked in produce. On Monday, a coworker turned the light off in the produce cooler and told her 'you’re in the gas chamber' then called her 'a f***ing Jew,'" she wrote.
"Sarah went to management, they told her not speak about, removed her from produce which she has been for a year, and put her on the register," the mother continued.
"The coworker was forced to apologize but still has his job in produce," Jackie added. "On Wednesday, the coworker harassed her again to which she reported to management. She has been in discussion with management every day since the incident."
"Management has completely failed, As a Mom, what should I do?" she asked Facebook users.
As highlighted by the Daily Freeman of Kingston, Mother Earth's Storehouse owner Kevin Schneider again offered an apology to the community for the "immense upset" and announced steps the business is taking to ensure similar incidents do not happen in the future.
"The Management Team at Mother Earth in Kingston would like to again apologize to our community for the immense upset that has occurred," Schneider posted. "We have been rooted on our community for over 40 years and have never incurred something such as this."
"There has been a lot of misinformation being shared on social media," he noted. "At this time, this situation has moved out of our hands, as the two employees are no longer working for us."
"We are taking what we feel are the necessary steps to insure that situations like this never happen again. We have hired a Human Resources company to help us with any future situations that could occur. We have mandated our entire staff to complete a training course to prevent these types of instances in the future. Our Management Team will also undergo additional training courses on how to properly handle any future HR situations," the owner concluded the post.