Thursday, February 2, 2017

Employment Analysis: DQ Manager Indicted: Involuntary Manslaughter in Suicide

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.  


Lorraine said...

On the flip side....companies themselves need a "vetting" system by prospective employees. This example clearly shows how people in position can be detrimental to employees. It's a two way street. Many in upper management expect their employees to lie for themselves or their company and possibly other illegal activities as well with the threat of loosing their livelihood if they don't comply. It's hard for people who want to be honest in these type of situations. it's hard for the young and inexperienced because they tend to look to follow their "superiors" example.

Zsuzsanna said...

This is heartbreaking. I was moved to tears but his picture and the details of what happened. The poor, poor boy. To think there was not even one person in his life that loved him enough to help him out of such an abusive situation.

Zsuzsanna said...

This is heartbreaking. I was moved to tears but his picture and the details of what happened. The poor, poor boy. To think there was not even one person in his life that loved him enough to help him out of such an abusive situation.

Anonymous said...

It's very sad...way too many predatorial vampires looking to knock someone down to make themselves feel better. The boy was probably bullied at home, and other bullies can sense this the way a shark senses blood.
Many times, these bullies probably intend for the victims to commit suicide, or, at the very least, could care less if the victim does commit suicide.
We should all treat each other with kindness, because we never know what kinds of burdens someone else is already carrying. I find when I smile at strangers, they seem thrilled like it was the first smike they got all day.

Way too many people gossip and dump all over other people thinking other people exist as mental punching bags. Some people are just plain evil.
The DQ manager was probably taught at home it was OK or even desirable to dump all over whichever victim she could find.
I believe underage bullies parents should do jail time. Yes, I do. These parents ARE responsible for creating abusive predators. If my son ever bullies someone (which he wouldnt) I would consider myself 100% responsible. My son has been taught never to bully, to stand up for anyone being bullied, and that ONLY COWARDS BULLY. My message and guidance was clear, and I did not mince my words. ONLY WEAK COWARDS BULLY.
Parents who raise bullies have raised monsters and should be held accountable. Period.

Tania Cadogan said...

I'm confused. I thought the manager was female yet in the statement it says

"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."

In particular
none of his actions was intended to demean or demoralize
Followed almost immediately by she testified."

Is the manager transgender and if so, will this be a mitigation factor perhaps?

happyuk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The bullies who picked on him at school should have been KICKED OUT. They interfere with someone else's education, then theyve lost their "right" to an education!

Our society coddles bullies. Ive seen it. The "funny" part is, those who enable bullies dont care about the bully bc they are the same or worse...and karma's a b$tch and these bullies end up alone and miserable.

In high school, I stood up to a guy on the football team when I saw him calling this other guy a "faggot" over and over till the guy started to tear up. I told him to shut the hell up, and his reaction was to challenge me to a fistfight, and I am female!!!!! Luckily the teacher came in at that point. But I'll tell you what--he never said a word to that kid again, and another guy he made fun of did try to kill himself but that bully actually repented and took the other kid under his wing!
Strange things happen I guess. But mostly noone tells these bully types to cut the crap and knock it iff.

happyuk said...

As someone who likes to think he is inured to this sort of thing, that was painful reading.

Some try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others, alas.

I agree with the point made by Lorraine in that a fish rots from the head down. If this extreme behaviour goes unregulated it is because those in senior management silently approve of it.

JenB said...

This breaks my heart. I don't understand why his parents didn't have him quit this awful job, or let him do online school from home.

Anonymous said...

Bullies are NOT cowards. Deeming them so is an excuse. Their conduct is solely about overpowering the weaker, which is a strength, although an evil strength. They enjoy hurting others. Our schools should be seperated by gender. Men teaching boys. Women teaching girls. In seperate buildings. And above all, the elimination of the grossly over paid position of district superintendent. But back to bullies: they ruin everything. In management they cannot foster creativity or respect and they're tolerated far too long. How many assets quit because of a bully? How many assets no longer step up to correct problems at an early stage due to resentment?

Anonymous said...

Anon you wrote

"Bullies are NOT cowards. Deeming them so is an excuse. Their conduct is solely about overpowering the weaker, which is a strength, although an evil strength. They enjoy hurting others."

Excuse me? You're telling me bullies aren't cowards? Oh yes they are, and you will find almost universally that that is why they pick on those weaker. You say that takes strength to pick on someone weaker? Like hell it does. Most of these guys out there beating up women or verbally abusing them would run like little sissies and hide if the woman suddenly turned into a guy their own size or any size for that matter.

They thrive on a feeling of power and they love the fact that most people aren't going to say anything to them because they don't want to have to be targeted by the bully. Personally, like I said, I stood up to a football player much bigger than me back in high school and told him to shut the hell up (in front of an entire roomful of other students and while he was surrounded by at least 4 other popular football player friends all snickering at his antics) after he had been calling this kid I was friends with a "faggot" over and over trying to get the kid to cry...the guy then went after me verbally insulting me, calling me names, and it was no picnic, but I stood my ground just saying "I said shut the ---- up" to everything he would say to me, I just kept saying it to every single he thing he said "I said shut the f&ck up" ; then he challenged me to a fist fight and I was like I don't care go ahead let's go cause I was p-----ed and was seeing red....but luckily the teacher walked into the study hall at that point. But let me tell you, that football player NEVER said another WORD to the kid he was picking on AGAIN...because even though he could have clobbered me, he didn't like having someone stand up to him in front of all his friends...cause I didn't back down. Yeah the guy was a coward...not only was he picking on the "weaker" guy, he could only do it if he remained totally unchallenged (also he was surrounded by 4 other football players so he felt like a real hot shot).
And actually the guy reformed and turned into a very nice person, which is very strange, and that doesn't usually happen with these types. But this guy I think was able to develop some insight into his behavior, strangely.

Anonymous said...

It's not easy to stand up to a bully. If you stand up to them, they then make you their target. I mean, I was shaking for hours I was so upset after standing up to the football player and having him totally go after me because of it. This guy was MEAN. He was a notorious bully at the school and he was also very popular. I was very shaken by it, and I wasn't going to intervene when he first started calling my friend a "faggot" but when he just kept going calling him "faggot, you f-ckin faggot" over and over in front of everyone trying to get him to CRY, something snapped in me and I knew I had to act. He wanted the kid to cry, and I couldn't take it.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, bullies should be put into a Marine boot camp training program. If I was a school principal, there would be no "well try to be nicer to him", hell no, I"d be like "You are a bully and you are interfering with this kid's education and you are going to an 8-week Marine training boot camp"....yes, these bullies need to be disciplined, they need to be straightened out, and a lot of these bullies end up in jail so you are doing them a favor to put them into a boot camp and that is where they belong. They need discipline and they need to learn RESPECT!

Anonymous said...

And they do have Marine training programs for high school students to take if they are just interested in the Marines...they last a couple hours a week, and they are not punishment. My son and his friend wanted to become Marines so they signed up for it (against my wishes!!!), but it is a WONDERFUL program. They have real Marine drill sergeants who teach the kids self-respect, respect, dignity, discipline, etc. They also take the kids camping and they do not coddle these kids, they instill integrity and respect into these kids. My son stayed in it for a few months, he mainly just wanted to experience a little bit of what it is like to be in the Marines, but his friend continued--his parents told me the program totally changed his life and he is now a youth drill sergeant.
There is absolutely no reason why this program can't be expanded into an 8 week program for kids who actually NEED it!!!

Anonymous said...

And I really hope the person who wrote that bullies are not cowards, and that bullying is a strength albeit an evil one, was kidding.

Do you think a person who bullies women, kids or animals is a strong person, that that takes strength? That is one of the things that I truly don't understand is how an individual who torments someone or an animals who is so much weaker than them does not feel REPULSED by themselves. What they do is a humiliation of themselves, it is like they are announcing "I am the scum of the earth. I have no balls whatsoever. I am such a wimp I pick on someone or an animals who has absolutely no chance of defending themselves. That is actually a nauseating level of weakness. Why don't they go up against someone as strong as or stronger than themselves? That would show strength. And so few of them EVER would.

I don't care about holding my tongue either. I have recently told someone they have balls the size of raisins for picking on women.

These men are utterly cowards. They have no masculinity which is what truly makes me sick. Men are supposed to protect women, children and animals. Period. It is an abomination that any of them would verbally or physically assault any of the aforementioned.

It is amazing how many people actually give these men sympathy or buy into their excuses...oh and they have so many. So many absolutely bullcrap excuses.

I don't believe any of them. People make a choice how to behave and unless someone is insane, they know right from wrong. The excuse that so many criminals use that they were abused as a child...well then they should know how bad it feels and not subject someone else to it.

Men who abuse women are the lowest level of scum. Absolute cowards, they don't have the strength to be a man. It disgusts me, and like I said I have told someone recently point blank "You have balls the size of raisins" because it's true, and at a certain point, these guys need to be told the truth. They are absolute steamrollers who just want to impose their will through any abuse they need to dish out. And they find so many enablers who make so many excuses for them...oh give me a break, yeah I'm sure their lives are so hard they need to abuse someone,,,poor them,..I wonder how the person they're abusing feels. And they don't learn ever or change their ways. But that is how they get how they get is by having so many enablers and so many people who never call them out on the carpet. Why should they change, not a damn person tells them they are wrong. But I do. It may make no difference, in fact I'm sure it won't, but at least I won't ever have to speak to them again, because, no, I do not associate with men who abuse anyone. Period. They can find some other sucker to go play patty-cake with. I consider their behavior too despicable to even speak to them. Find pity from someone else...oh yes poor you, you poor abuser. Makes my blood boil.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Old school but accurate definition:

Masculinity is the sacrifice of strength; not the employment for exploitative purposes.

This is why, in spite of Hollywood's lies, "Women and Children First" was a long well known battle cry for young boys to learn.

Those who use their strength to exploit, harass, taunt, and further humiliate defeated foes are not masculine and they are not brave. These are those who should be screened out for employment in any position of authority. These are those who are the most likely candidates for domestic violence.

Those who are trained in childhood that celebrating a victory is a measured event, and not one intended to further humiliate the one who lost, are those who later control their passions under fire.

Many of these good ones "protect and serve" today.


Statement Analysis Blog said...

I may due an article with statements on adult work place bullies.

It is, in many cases, almost impossible to stand up to them due to the coercive threat of loss of income.

They thrive in bureaucracy because there is no bottom line to hold them accountable. The greater the authority of the bully and the station of the bureaucracy, the more frightening the results.

I have interviewed (and sadly, seen) some who lost their health over the long term impact of bullying. I have seen it destroy lives, ruin confidence, and move into personal lives, but in most all cases, there were health consequences.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobcat said...

OT: Patton Oswalt regarding death of his wife.

Mr. Oswalt, 47, recounted what happened next the way a detective exhaustively details a case he has been running over in his mind.
After getting up early, he helped his daughter, Alice, get dressed, packed her lunch and drove her to school, then picked up a cup of his wife’s favorite coffee. Back home, he went to their bedroom, where she was snoring. He gently placed the Americano on a bedside table. It was 9:40 a.m.
Mr. Oswalt went to his home office, answered emails, did two phone interviews and noticed some sad news online: Prince had died. He shot off a series of tweets and returned to his bedroom to find his wife still in bed. She wasn’t breathing. It was 12:42 p.m. When the paramedics arrived, they pronounced her dead.
Her death was so shocking that Mr. Oswalt refused to believe the scene in front of him. In tears, he clung to the notion he was living a nightmare, trying to will himself awake. “I was literally blinking trying to get out of this,” he recalled.
Six months later, the coroner’s office still has not declared a cause of death. “I have a feeling it might have been an overdose,” he said, citing the Xanax. “That’s what the paramedics there were saying while I was screaming and throwing up.
This was, Mr. Oswalt said, the second worst day of his life: “The worst is when I told my daughter the next day.”
As on the day she died, Mr. Oswalt has occasionally entertained the idea that his loss has not been real. One question has popped into his head several times: What if he is actually the one who has died?
“What if, as my last brain cell died, I imagined a whole other life, that my brain cannot deal with the horror of my body dying, so it’s made up the next worst thing, which is this person who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with has been yanked away from me?” he said, his voice getting ragged, spinning this scenario out, proposing that the interview he was doing at the moment was an invention of his own mind. After comparing his life to a scene from the movie “Jacob’s Ladder,” he stopped: “Sorry, I sound crazy.”

Bobcat said...

OT: Patton Oswalt Part II

The reaction to her passing, the people who are shocked at her senseless absence, is a testament to how she steered her life with joyous, wicked curiosity. Cops and comedians call—speechless or sending curt regards. Her family is devastated but can’t help remember all of the times she made them laugh or comforted them, and they smile and laugh themselves. She hasn’t left a void. She’s left a blast crater.
I loved her. This is the first time I’ve been able to use “I” writing this. Probably because there hasn’t been much of an “I” since the morning of April 21. There probably won’t be for a while. Whatever there is belongs to my daughter—to our daughter. Alice.
Five days after Michelle was gone, Alice and I were half-awake at dawn, after a night of half-sleeping. Alice sat up in bed. Her face was silhouetted in the dawn light of the bedroom windows. I couldn’t see her expression. I just heard her voice: “When your mom dies you’re the best memory of her. Everything you do and say is a memory of her.”
That’s the kind of person Michelle created and helped shape.
That was Michelle. That is Michelle. I love her.

Oswalt released a statement saying coroner's officials had informed him of his wife's cause of death. He said he and McNamara had no idea she had a condition that caused blockages in her arteries.
'We learned today the combination of drugs in Michelle's system, along with a condition we were unaware of, proved lethal,' Oswalt said.
The blockages, combined with her taking the medications Adderall, Xanax and the pain medication fentanyl, caused his wife's death in April 2016, Oswalt said in the statement.

Los Angeles coroner's Lieutenant David Smith said McNamara's cause of death remains listed as pending.

Anonymous said...

Weak indifferent management and complicity at HR as well as failure of school authority by ignoring and dismissing aggressive predatory behavior are responsible for the damage. There are always signs, red flags and warnings. And most are obvious violations of the organizations own policies. Yet too often no action taken until after tragedy they then cynically cite their policy of commitment to employee/student safety. If its on paper, thats good enough for them. The real tragedy is persons in postion of authority possesing no moral authority. No real leadership ability. Thats the failure of managing from the top down. Relying on yes men and misleading reports, charts and graphs but ignorant of the rank & file and the inner workings from the bottom up. Modern management is focused on doing more with less.

Anonymous said...

School superintendent pay continues to rise. St Louis Post Dispatch.

Anonymous said...

February 4, 2017
A Love of Hate: The Addiction of the New American Left
By Pete Vanderzwet. AmericanThinker

Anonymous said...

so is it a female manager or a male?

maybe that was your first hint of trouble

Anonymous said...

I work in a place that is more toxic every day. I cry several times a day and come home and cry every night. The bullying, lying, and implied threats of the clinic administrator are emotionally and physically exhausting. I have started an antique depressant nd anti anxiety medication since starting there. I can't afford to quit but I am looking for another job. It reminds me of what Peter has mentioned about domestic violence. The implied threats are what keep people subjugated. I wish we had some sort of protection.

Anonymous said...

I wish I would have continued reading before replying above. I am in such a situation, Peter. It has taken an extreme toll. Even typing this has me in years because I'm so stressed and unhappy. I can't enjoy my weekend because I dread Mondays. It is hell and I am almost 50 and ironically, as live in Missouri. This poor young man. I praying for his family.

Anonymous said...

Mother's outrage after her son is suspended because HE was beaten up on school bus for wearing ‘Make American Great Again’ hat.

What the heck is wrong in St Louis Missouri?

Anonymous said...

Article is in todays DailtMail UK.

Anonymous said...

Comment on content. Not spelling. If you cannot contribute to dialog then go back to your uce cream and tv.

Anonymous said...

You got me agiin. Very observant.

Anonymous said...

Why are you having so much trouble today with typing? Shaky fingers? Or are they sticky from all the ice cream?

Anonymous said...

I be warkin. Someone had gots to pay for alls dem free O'Mamma phones ya'll gits.

Anonymous said...

#NeverDQ. For Kenny.

Anonymous said...

Railroad architect.

Anonymous said...

Really? That's fascinating. You sound like a very sophisticated man.

Habundia said...

Can we just stick to Statement Analysis instead of batching each other of for what ever reason......its not educational at all, i rather learn some , or was it ment to be we need to analyse your comments?��

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Please see my post above.

Habundia said...

@Anonymous February 5, 2017 at 12:04 PM
Sorry i used the wrong word.....ment to say like to ruff off......:-)