Kroger Co. was recently hit by an unlawful death lawsuit after a former worker committed suicide in March.
The Kroger Co. is facing an unlawful death lawsuit filed by the family of Evan Seyfried, a former worker who committed suicide earlier this year. The lawsuit was filed in Hamilton County Court in Ohio, alleging that 40-year-old Seyfried committed suicide after standing under “excruciating conditions, including harassment and bullying by colleagues in the Milford store” for six months. The lawsuit argues that “their conduct violated Kroger’s stated business ethics and was not responded to by the company, despite being advised by Seyfried and other employees.”
Scales of justice. Image via Flickr / user: mikecogh. (CCA-BY-2.0).
As a result, Seyfried’s family is demanding $ 25,000 and a lawsuit. In response to the lawsuit, a Kroger spokesman made the following statement:
“The loss of an employee is heartbreaking for our company. We share our sympathy with the Seyfried family and our employees after the loss of long-term employee Evan Seyfried. In line with our values, we provide advisory services to our employees in Milford, Ohio. Due to pending legal disputes, we are currently unable to comment, but we can state that we are actively investigating the matter. “
But what exactly happened? Seyfried initially worked as a dairy manager and first experienced hostility from one of his superiors in October, when the tension and stress from the pandemic was already high. One thing he was mistreated for was his “compliance with the company’s mask policy”. According to the lawsuit, Seyfried was “consistently ridiculed and harassed and that the supervisor, Shannon Frazee, pitted employees against each other not only because of their willingness to follow the COVID-19 safety guidelines, but also because of their political ideologies”.
But that wasn’t the worst. In fact, the lawsuit alleges that “certain workers sabotaged Seyfried’s dairy division in order to fire him, leading to allegations that colleagues followed him home, sent child pornography on his cellphone and subjected him to sexual harassment. In addition, he is said to have been harassed “in retaliation for attempts to report the behavior”.
Seyfried went to the company and union officials to address the alleged abuse and harassment, but nothing happened. He also applied for a transfer, but that didn’t happen either, which prompted him to resign at the beginning of March.
The lawsuit comes at a time when retailers like Kroger are grappling with “deep scrutiny of employee practices amid COVID-19 controversies, political and social unrest and the associated demand for better jobs in a tight labor market.” In response to that exam, Kroger created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, stating that it was “dedicated to creating a fairer workplace where every employee is empowered, supported and felt valued and belonged”.
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The suicide of the former Kroger grocery store employee was a result of “excruciating conditions,” the lawsuit said