Failure to act on workplace bullying and abuse not only harmed employees, but also caused great damage to the company. One employee even took his own life after constant bullying by colleagues and supervisors.
“Justice for Evan” is what Evan Seyfried’s friends and family, former colleagues and customers are demanding on their posters and social media pages. Evan, a 40-year-old Kroger employee, experienced bullying starting with his decision to wear a mask due to the Corona pandemic. He worked for Kroger for 19 years. He decided to transfer to Milford, Ohio, to help a colleague. That’s where his problems began. His supervisor had used the wearing of a mask as an opportunity to taunt Evan repeatedly. She and other accused deliberately sabotaged his work. Some known and unknown persons had probably joined in. They had followed him home, sent him inappropriate messages and parked in front of his house for hours. The neighbourhood had confirmed this. Evan had also been threatened with surveillance by one of the accused. His dismissal had been planned. Evan applied for a transfer. The whole story escalated when they sent child pornographic material to his mobile phone accusing him of paedophilia. Evan and a colleague of his reported the case internally, without any success. He resigned and together with his father he even sought advice from a law firm. He still feared prosecution on a false accusation. Finally, after months of harassment, Evan took his own life. His father found him in his room.
Yet Evan is said to have been a kind-hearted and friendly person. He had no history of illness, depression or other problems that could have caused his voluntary death. So many people have gathered and are demanding justice. They don’t understand how a company like Kroger could ignore the internal reports for a long time. Evan’s father filed a lawsuit against the company.
The union also failed to act. A colleague of Evan’s reported the harassment to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Evan himself also reported the harassment. The UFCW represents Kroger workers. According to reports from various sources, the union did not respond after the report. It also remained silent after Evan’s death.
Now more and more employees are coming forward who have experienced something similar. Probably not as drastic, but similar and, from their point of view, intolerable. Kroger is said to have dismissed employees for no reason in order not to have to pay bonuses. Among other things, a district manager had told the store manager to look for mistakes and to dismiss employees because of the mistakes. One employee reported that she had been dismissed for allegedly not putting a label on a product correctly. Another reported that she had been dismissed during her pregnancy because she was struggling with symptoms of pregnancy. There is also talk of accused supervisors allegedly taking advantage of their position of power and harassing young female workers.
The case seems more than strange. Harassment due to a mask? Pursuit and parking for hours in front of the house? Almost like an interception. And then finally framing him for something unsavoury? This doesn’t sound like an ordinary bullying case. In any case, the mask issue seems too trivial for the drastic and time-consuming measures taken by the accused. Or did Evan know more? We will continue to follow the case.
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