The Tragic Reason One Family Is Suing Kroger

Midway through 2021 and still enduring a global pandemic, the country is now deep in the throes of conversations surrounding what constitutes a healthy work environment. With many companies forced to face uncomfortable truths about how they've long been operating, the concepts of remote work, livable wages, and healthy and supportive environments are more sought-after than ever, according to Harvard Business School.

Unfortunately, certain companies have bigger concerns than, say, the request for remote working; the conversation about harassment in the workplace is not new, but as the American work structure shifts, tragic examples of toxic workplaces are coming to light more and more.

Such is the story of Evan Seyfried, who was an employee of Kroger in Milford, Ohio for 19 years. In March of this year, Seyfried died by suicide, as Local 12 reports. Now, Seyfried's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kroger and two managers, alleging that he experienced an environment of harassment and "torturous conditions" while working at the grocery chain.

The lawsuit alleges a toxic work environment

The lawsuit alleges that two Kroger employees set out on a "campaign" to harass Seyfried in relation to his political and personal beliefs, The Washington Post reports. The harassment included said employees sabotaging Seyfried while at work, stalking him at his home, and sending him explicit materials in an attempt to frame him for possessing it.

The alleged six-month-long harassment period was not suffered silently by Seyfried, though. The lawsuit claims that the former dairy department manager contacted Kroger on multiple occasions to report the harassment and request a transfer to a different location. Kroger did nothing to assist Seyfried by removing him or offering support, nor did it take action against the reported parties, per the lawsuit.

Seyfried's family's lawsuit against Kroger and its employees remains ongoing. While Kroger cannot comment on ongoing litigation, Kroger's Kristal Howard told the Washington Post that the grocery chain was offering counseling services to workers at the Milford, Ohio branch.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.