‘Fired for hugging’ claim sparks death threats, more alleged victims

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WHITEHALL, Mich.- Fred Civis said he was fired for hugging a customer but new documents shows that there may be more to it than that.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office says four more women have come forward with similar allegations of being inappropriately touched by Civis.

FOX 17 obtained the police report through the Freedom of Information Act, and it includes the store's previous actions where they addressed Civis’ hugging.

“I gave her what I used, what we used to term as a kid, a pal hug, you put your arm around the shoulder, you put your arm around the shoulder, ya know you’re best pals,” Civis said.

FOX 17 was first alerted of Civis` termination through the Facebook page Boycott Whitehall Plumb's for Fred.

Since then support for the cashier who had worked at the store for nearly 40 years skyrocketed with thousands of likes and comments of support all the way from Australia, even fundraising pages to help Civis financially while he’s out of work.

Meanwhile the alleged victim and others believed to be that complainant received death threats.

It`s something the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office says they`re taking seriously, warning they may press felony charges on those responsible.

The police report for the incident says the victim claims that Civis bagged the items and then put his arm around her shoulders then brushed his hand over her butt.

Civis said he was just being friendly, put his arm around her shoulders and meant nothing suggestive by his actions.

In the report a letter from another woman says a similar thing happened to her and that she felt violated.

There's also a statement from a fellow employee saying she sees Civis hugging women throughout the day, making them feel very uncomfortable.

The corrective review form from January 2013 shows Civis being disciplined after the store received a complaint from a woman who says every time she comes in the store he hugs her and it makes her uncomfortable.

Expectations list “From this point forward Fred is not allowed to initiate any hugs to customers,” saying it may be his final warning.

Civis will be back in court facing a misdemeanor assault and battery charge later this month.

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    • Matt

      I see nothing wrong with a guy hugging someone we need more kindness in the works today to many people far fetch claiming sexual harassment dr hugging or anything else… In this day and age we need hugs occasionally it’s away tk feel connected the guy worked there for 4@ years think it’s cool of him to hug people heck idd hug the guy nothing wrong with a hug if he groped a boob or skmething can see something wrong with that but by the sounds of it sounds like he hugs everyone not just women…..

  • Kammie

    What the hell happened to people being nice to one another without it being a “threat”? I apologize in advance if I don’t know the entire story but, for heaven’s sake, has the world gotten so tainted that a simple act of kindness throws people into an upheaval?!!!! Honestly, if that is the case I could be in big trouble because I, personally, touch people on a daily basis; it is a basic response for me to let them know that I have connected with them, that I hear them, that I care, if only for a moment, for them. Have we, as a whole, become so disconnected with the world that this simple act is a threat? That scares me. Again, I apologize if this is more than just an act of kindness…but I am looking at this gentleman and I have to believe a company as large as Plumbs has done a background check, therefore, there are many years with no previous issues.

    • Ray Weaver

      that is the EXACT same thing he did to my fiancé. We went to school with his son and her mother knows Fred and at first thought it was an accident. Then he did it again. And again. She’s never complained because we know he is simple – but he obvious knows what he is doing and its inappropriate. Pal hug my left foot.

    • Andrew S

      While I see what you’re saying but I disagree most people extend their arms first then it’s on the other person to accept the hug they can easily say no thanks I don’t hug instead of being quick to yell harassment

  • Lily

    If people are so offended by hugs why don’t they just say “I’m not really a huggy person…. handshake?” Simple. Very little hurt feelings, no “assault and battery”. If it’s happened “many times before” people had many opportunities to NOT get him in trouble and just say “Hey, I don’t like being touched.” Problems = Solved.

  • Diane

    Today too many people think every time someone touches you it is sexual. Come on people. Hugging is good for you. When I was pregnant for my last child I was a cashier in a large grocery store. There was a customer who would come through my lane because he “liked pregnant women” He touched by belly once. I asked him not to touch me again and he didn’t. Quit making something sexual out of something innocent. Do some research on how good hugging is for people.

    Haven’t you ever hugged someone and accidently brushed against them. No wonder our country is in such bad shape. No one wants to be kind to one another or accept kindness from others.

  • svberge

    I don’t care how nice of a person he was, I don’t want anyone touching me at all. If it’s a friend of mine or relative and it’s a mutual hug, that’s one thing, but you don’t touch people like that.

  • Incredulous

    He was copping a feel of women’s asses. Not once. Repeatedly. All you proud defenders, send your daughter into the back room with him for a hug. If he touched my wife I would lay him out.

  • Sunshine

    We have a hugger at my small grocery store. He is older and has also been around forever. Love him! However, when my 70 yr. old conservative mother was with me and witnessed a big hug, she was mortified! Hoping this story is about innocent hugs, but even so I guess I understand how grocery store hugs aren’t for everyone.


    A boss I had years ago meant nothing suggestive by his actions while he rubbed my shoulders and whipered requests for bjs in my ear while I was working. And since no one heard his words or saw his behavior, many people would have rallied around him, too, had I complained. Just b/c his “supporters” didn’t see him act badly or that they haven’t become a victim of his bad behavior doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Pervs aren’t usually perverted to everyone they see; they’re selective.

  • anonymous

    It isn’t nice to be disrespectful to others and touching them without permission when you have been told it makes some people uncomfortable is disrespectful.

    All Fred had to do was listen to his employers instructions to keep his job.

    He needed to do his job and be professional.

    There is nothing nice about how over the years the many people who have spoken up have been bullied and intimidated.

    Nothing nice at all, and that is why unfortunately we need laws.

    Hopefully the judge will impress upon Fred what his employer and others could not.

    To respect the rights and feelings of others, and to respect boundaries and not ignore it when people tell you your behavior makes them uncomfortable.

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