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Wife of self-taught engineer is suing Uber after he committed suicide due to toxic work environment

By Mason White 1:17 PM April 30, 2017
Zecole Thomas with her husband and children
Zecole Thomas with her husband and children
By: William Martin

A mother is suing Uber after her husband committed suicide because of the toxic work environment.

Zecole Thomas of California, said that her husband, 33-year-old Joseph, turned down a job offer with Apple and chose to work for Uber after leaving his position at LinkedIn.

The widow said that her husband chose to work at Uber because he thought that he will have more of an opportunity to grow at the younger company.

Thomas was promised a $170,000 a year salary.

However, after working for the company for less than five months, Joseph committed suicide, leaving behind his wife, who was his childhood sweetheart, and two sons, Joseph, 9, and Ezekiel, 7.

Zecole is suing the company after she and her two young children were denied workers compensation.

Zecole argues in her lawsuit that she deserves the payment of approximately $722,000 because it was the toxic work environment that caused Joseph to commit suicide.

Zecole said that her husband was happy when he left LinkedIn to start working for Uber.

She further stated in the lawsuit that her husband, who was a self-taught engineer, began complaining about how his supervisors constantly questioned his abilities.

“He would say ‘I feel stupid, everyone is laughing at me,’ and he was as hard-working, driven and focused as ever,” Zecole said.

When her husband became depressed, Zecole went with him to see a psychiatrist, who advised him to quit his high-stress job.

Zecole said that by then, her husband was so broken inside that he could not muster up the courage to get a different job.

One month before his suicide, Joseph reportedly texted a friend and wrote: “The sad thing is this place (Uber) has broken me to the point where I don’t have the strength to look for another job.”

Zecole said that one day, after her husband dropped their kids off at school and returned home, she found him sitting in his car in the garage.

When she got into the vehicle to speak to him, Zecole found that he was bleeding. Joseph was rushed to a hospital, where he died two days later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He was pronounced dead one week before his 34th birthday.

Uber denied the family workers compensation, citing California law that does not require insurance companies to cover psychiatric issues that occur less than six months into employment.

Joseph worked at the company a little less than five months when he died.

However, there is an exception to the law. If the psychiatric injury is caused by a sudden and extraordinary employment conditions, then one is entitled to the money.

Nicole and her attorney believe that they can prove that Joseph developed his condition on the job.