CINCINNATI — A local group is demanding action ahead of Kroger’s annual shareholder meeting. "Justice for Evan" formed after the suicide of a Kroger employee who was allegedly bullied at work.
Evan Seyfried worked at the Kroger store in Milford for years. He resigned last spring and died by suicide three days later.
His family has sued the company, claiming he was abused by managers at work. The suit alleges Seyfried’s boss "mocked and humiliated" him for his political beliefs and for wearing a mask in line with the company's pandemic policies.
According to the lawsuit, Seyfried’s family claims he had no prior history of severe mental health concerns.
Officials behind "Justice for Evan" say Seyfried reached out to Kroger for help and was ignored.
In court, Kroger filed to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming the company had no knowledge of any mental health issues Seyfried was having, nor could they have foreseen his death by suicide.
"Justice for Evan" has circulated a petition online calling for change at the company and has received more than 10,000 signatures.
The group is calling on top company leaders to resign. This month, the group sent letters to the company’s top shareholders urging them to demand action at the company’s annual meeting Thursday.
“If our demands aren't met, we are asking for the shareholders to drastically reduce their shares of Kroger and to encourage other shareholders to do the same, to actually take action,” said Jana Lee Murphy, a friend of the family and founder of "Justice for Evan." “Action. Not just words saying we want Kroger to be better. We want them to actually acknowledge that there is toxicity in the culture of Kroger, deadly toxicity in the culture at Kroger.”
Murphy said the group is working to draft a proposal for new legislation aimed at holding companies accountable for the safety of their employees.
“The Kroger family is saddened by the loss of our associate, Evan Seyfried, and extend our condolences to his family and friends,” wrote a Kroger spokesperson in a statement to WCPO. “Because this is a matter of active litigation, we are not able to comment further.”