The following is a tough article to read of a tragedy that ensued. There is much to debate regarding responsibility, but for the purposes here, we look at the statement the store manager made, and how the store's owner is going to very likely pay. The owner already must deal with the personal consequences of this death, and likely legal consequences to come.
Although we cannot impact what took place in school, nor in one's personal life or in the home, companies can, and must, protect themselves by more carefully screening both entry level employees and those directly hired or promoted to manage them.
The personality traits evident in this manager's words should have been discerned in the hiring process beforehand. She should never have been in a position of authority where she could be, in the least, inappropriate, and in the worst, demeaning and humiliating her subordinate.
Even though their ages may be close, the position held is one of authority and "I was joking" in context, does not justify anything. These are those who's only value is found in demeaning and humiliating others: they signal this in their language. If the Employment Questionnaire is used appropriately, valuable time will be saved as she would not likely have been even granted an interview.
Harley Branham, manager of a Dairy Queen in Missouri has been indicted for Involuntary Manslaughter in the suicide death of a worker. The charge came after a coroner's jury was convened.
The news reported that she "denied" harassing the teen. Let's look at her statement.
Proving in court that the treatment by a superior led to the suicide is very difficult, especially if there is testimony that the suicide victim was teased in school or elsewhere. We are looking at the statement, itself.
The manager of a Dairy Queen in Missouri has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a teenager who endured rampant bullying at work and school — until he finally pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger.
A coroner’s jury in Howard County ruled on Tuesday that Kenneth Suttner’s Dec. 21 suicide was caused by involuntary manslaughter after years of bullying at school and at a Dairy Queen in Fayette, where the 17-year-old was repeatedly harassed and ridiculed by his former manager, Harley Branham, aged 21.
Testimony was that while on the job, Branham repeatedly bullied the teen — even forcing him to clean the floor by hand while lying on his stomach, and throwing a cheeseburger at the teen when he made it incorrectly, former co-workers testified.
The article continues: "Branham, 21, denied harassing the teen, saying none of his actions was intended to demean or demoralize him. Any insults were lighthearted and meant in jest, she testified."
“There’s a lot of people at Dairy Queen saying I was the reason but I don’t understand why it would be that way.”
This is not an embedded confession: she is addressing specific people: a lot of people at Dairy Queen. She say she does not understand "why it would be" that which, which is passive voice. This is a form of psychological distancing from her own words and involvement. Although children must be taught that teasing and insults only carry the power we assign to them and that "sticks and stones...but names can never hurt me", it remains that she had a position of authority over him and even in this short statement there is no denial and no sense of personal responsibility.
Note the media reported a denial, but this is not a denial, nor even an affirmable defense. It is never acceptable for a superior to say and do what she did. This need to ridicule is easily picked up in the hiring process especially if an Employment Questionnaire is used.
Branham — who later was fired from the ice cream shop for unrelated reasons — admitted calling Suttner an “a–hole” at least once, but claimed it was intended in a playful manner.
Allison Bennett, who worked with Suttner at the Dairy Queen, said he was frequently harassed at work, often to the point that he would go outside and cry. He was also targeted by bullies at school, where a former classmate from Glasgow High School testified that she saw Suttner tormented hundreds of times.
“Kenny spent his life trying to tolerate negative words and actions,” said Mary Korte, the mother of one of Suttner’s friends.
Lexie Graves, who told jurors Suttner was her best friend, testified that she saw students pick on the teen for “basically everything about him,” including his weight and speech impediment
Graves said she reported the bullying only once because it typically led nowhere. The girl’s mother also testified that her son was bullied at the school as well, and at least on one occasion by a teacher who also ridiculed Suttner. Subsequent meetings with school administrators solved nothing, she testified,
Jurors concluded that Branham was the “principal in the cause of death” and that Dairy Queen negligently failed to properly train employees on issues pertaining to harassment, according to the inquest’s verdict form obtained by the Associated Press. Jurors also found that Glasgow Public Schools was negligent in failing to prevent bullying.
Dairy Queen, meanwhile, said a franchisee independently owns and operates the restaurant where Suttner worked on Cleveland Street in Fayette, a town of roughly 2,700 people.
DQ made a statement:
“We first learned of the situation today and our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” the company said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “We are still in the process of gathering information but understand from the franchisee that the manager is no longer employed at this location.”
The manager was fired too late.
We train companies as well as do sub contracting work for them, or can refer them to a professional analyst who will help them screen out those who are deceptive, likely to steal, and those who will bring trouble and loss to a company.
This high level use of detecting deception allows companies to hire the best candidates, while saving money, time, reputation, stress and, in this case, the worst possible results.