Evan Seyfried, 40, (pictured above) took his own life after he was allegedly harassed, sabotaged, stalked and threatened by his Kroger colleagues
The family of a Kroger employee is suing the grocery store chain for wrongful death after they claim he took his own life because he was targeted in a six-month harassment campaign by co-workers that started when he wore a face mask to work because he was worried about COVID-19.
Evan Seyfried, 40, who worked at a Kroger location in Milford, Ohio for nineteen years as the dairy department manager, committed suicide on March 9 after his colleagues sabotaged his work, stalked him and threatened to frame him for possession of child pornography, according to the 29-page lawsuit filed Monday by Freking Myers & Reul LLC.
Austin LiPuma, the Seyfried family’s attorney, said the harassment campaign began in October 2020 after a ‘politically charged chasm between Evan and his superiors sparked disconcerting hazing and bullying’.
LiPuma alleges that Seyried’s manager treated him poorly because of his concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic and other political ideologies. According to the lawsuit, Seyfried’s work life became a ‘living hell.’ His supervisor, named in the suit as Shannon Frazee, reportedly harassed him for wearing a face mask and following COVID-19 protocols that were consistent with Kroger policy. She is also accused of encouraging other employees to ridicule him.
‘Evan was consistently mocked and harassed for taking COVID-19 seriously, and co-workers referred to him as “antifa,”’ LiPuma said in a press release.
In addition to ‘hazing, taunting, and bullying’ Seyfried, Frazee is accused of making ‘unwanted sexual advances’ towards him, despite being his supervisor. The suit states that Seyfried reported sexual harassment of multiple occasions with ‘zero recourse’.
The suit also claims that Frazee’s harassment evolved into workplace sabotage. She allegedly would leave ‘holes’ in the dairy department schedule, leaving Seyfried with extra work.
Other colleagues were accused of restocking the shelves in his department with expired products, resulting in Seyfried being written up and audited per company policy.
The alleged harassment began six months before Seyfried (pictured) killed himself. Seyfried reportedly faced ‘hazing, taunting, and bullying,’ among other things
Now, Seyfried’s family is suing Kroger for monetary damages and seeking a jury trial on multiple claims including wrongful death, conspiracy, retaliation and sexual harassment. The Milford store where Seyfried worked is pictured above
The suit alleges that his co-workers also began following him home and would remain ‘parked on the street for unusually long periods of time.’
Another supervisor, named in the lawsuit as Joseph Pigg, is also accused of telling Seyfried that ‘he could tap into Evan’s computer and track [him] and his internet usage at all times.’
Seyfried was not the only Kroger employee who reported the alleged misconduct. One of his colleagues reportedly called the company’s ethics helpline reporting that they were both being bullied in the workplace.
Seyfried also submitted multiple complaints to the store’s union representative, but no action was taken, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Seyfried reported the alleged misconduct several times, but no action was taken. Above is an exert from the complaint showcasing a note Seyfried wrote to officials that outlined incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace
In response to filing formal complaints, Seyfried reportedly received threatening text messages from unknown numbers saying things like: ‘Are you going to try and get us?’ and ‘Are you going to sue the company?’
The suit also alleges that the individual who was texting him also sent Seyfried messages ‘containing explicit child pornography.’
These behaviors reportedly continued through March 2021.
‘Evan was distraught,’ the lawsuit states. ‘Between the audit, the stalkers, the threatening text messages and child pornography, and the general toxic workplace environment, Evan felt unsafe.’
His parents, Ken (left) and Linda (right) say Seyfried (middle) killed himself after having a ‘transient episodic break’ resulting from his workplace conditions. They say he had ‘no prior history of severe mental health concerns’
Seyfried moved in with his parents on March 4, 2021, quit his job on March 6, and experienced his ‘first transient episodic break’ on March 8.
According to the complaint, Seyfried throw away all of his possessions, was found wandering the streets, and verbally expressed fear that his former supervisors were going to ‘get him’ and that ‘things would get ugly.’
Seyfried’s father Ken says those were the last words his son spoke to him before he found his body early in the morning of March 9.
The family asserts that Seyfried had ‘no prior history of severe mental health concerns.’
Now, the Seyfried family is suing for monetary damages and seeking a jury trial on numerous claims against Kroger and specific Kroger managers, including:
- Wrongful death
- Vicarious liability, respondeat superior, ostensible agency, and agency
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
- Invasion of privacy
- False light
- Employer intentional tort
- Negligent hiring, supervision, and retention
- Negligent failure to provide
- Sexual harassment
- Constructive discharge
- Reckless willful, and wanton conduct
- Intentional spoliation
Kroger did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment on Thursday.
Social media users have rallied together to show their support for Seyfried’s family. The group ‘Justice for Evan’ has organized a protest outside of the Milford Kroger store on July 24
Meanwhile, a Facebook group titled ‘Justice For Evan‘ has been created in an effort to unite those who wish to show their support for the Seyfried family.
The group is holding a ‘Protest Kroger‘ rally outside of the grocery chain’s Milford store on Saturday, July 24 at 1:30 pm.
Organizers say the purpose of the rally is to ensure that no other Kroger employees suffer ‘horrible abuse’ in the workplace.
The protest is open to anyone who would like to attend.
Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-900-273-8255); TTY: 1-900-799-4TTY (4889).
Read the complaint in its entirety, below: