(SANFORD, Fla.) — One of George Zimmerman’s former colleagues at CarMax, where he worked in 2008, complained formally about the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, alleging serial hazing that lasted for months and included pranks and ethnic jokes.
When the salesman complained to management, Zimmerman denied the harassment.
“The guy was so convincing when he was confronted by management to the point where I doubted my own self. I would not be surprised if he got away with it [Martin murder accusation],” Zimmerman’s former colleague said.
“He’s got, like you say, a good poker face. Great poker face,” the colleague continued. “That pretty much summarizes this guy’s personality. Great poker face.”
The employee, who is an Arab-American, worked part time at the used car retailer during 2008, and rose quickly to become one of the company’s top salesmen, despite the hazing, he says.
“These are some of the bully activities I have been facing that led me to be concerned about my work environment,” he wrote in the one page complaint. The complaint accused Zimmerman of pressuring him to split deals with him, of repeatedly “impersonating me in a terrorist character,” and mocking him constantly to earn the laughs of fellow workers.
In the letter, the colleague states, “Since I started working in CarMax Sanford, George has been dealing with me in an unprofessional manner and have mastered the art of emerging as the nice guy to others in order to make me look like the unsocial type and out of place.”
He also accused Zimmerman of giving the new worker “wrong directions about how to perform my job, and then later made jokes to other employees and managers of how ‘stupid’ I was to listen.”
The former car salesman insists that Zimmerman, who was 24 at the time, was not a racist, but would do anything to gain the approval of his colleagues, chiefly harassing their new colleague with Middle Eastern jokes. He said the racist remarks hurt more than anything else.
Speaking exclusively to ABC News, the man said, “He wasn’t joking around. He was choosing his words. He was making fun of my accent, or pretending that I have a thick accent.”
Zimmerman’s former colleague asked that his identity not be revealed because he feared any association with the Zimmerman trial could jeopardize his family’s security.
He said the bullying was noticed at CarMax.
“Other sales people would come and approach me and say, don’t worry about this guy, he’s a bully, he’s an idiot, he’s young, he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” he said.
The former colleague said others at CarMax said Zimmerman was upset for not getting the promotion he thought he deserved, and that’s why he took out his frustration on the colleague.
Zimmerman’s attorney would not comment on the story. CarMax issued a statement saying it did check that matter, but that “CarMax does not provide information on internal human resources matters.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
David Shortell, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN