Hazing is generally something stupid kids do to initiate members into a group. Generally, if you’re hazing someone at an actual place of work, or if the hazing includes things like setting people on fire, that’s not an initiation but psychopathic cruelty. It’s also what employees at an Audi repair center in Berkshire, UK did to George Cheese, allegedly leading to his suicide.
Cheese enlisted as a British Army mechanic in 2014, and later was forced to leave the military due to “stress fractures in his legs.” He suffered from depression and was on medication, but was “over the moon” when he got the Audi repair job.
While on the job, he was subject to an insane amount of bullying by his fellow employees, some of whom do not believe setting another human on fire is bullying. From the Telegraph:
George’s line manager, Simon Wright, who admitted to playing a number of pranks on George, told the inquest: “I was in the workshop when a prank was played on George and he was set on fire.
“It did not go too far. We knew where to draw the line,” he said.
“It was not bullying.”
He said that several of the things he had done to George, such as locking him in the boot of a car and hosing him down with a pressure cleaner, were things most of the apprentices were subjected to and that they would always be laughing at the end.
So, the line is after setting someone on fire?
Aside from being pressure-washed so hard until he couldn’t stand, then being called a “pussy” before having to walk home soaking, Cheese was also locked in a cage, and held down by four men and beaten in the legs by a fifth. Cheese was also subjected to a wide variety of verbal and emotional abuse as well, with Cheese’s iPad diary recording one incident where:
“My boss told me to hurry up and hang myself because I’m a useless piece of shit.”
Cheese did end up hanging himself, in an alley near his home.
Cheese was also having trouble with his girlfriend at the time, and his parents attributed much of his stress and unhappiness to that. Despite attempts to discuss his work situation with his parents, neither grasped the gravity of the situation, and suggested he not quit.
A coroner’s inquest determined that the Audi garage was not responsible for the young man’s suicide. The charges of abuse and mistreatment haven’t been disputed by the Audi shop, and The Guardian reports that disciplinary action has been taken against some employees, and that “a change in emphasis in further management,” has taken place.
Yeah, I bet.
To reach the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-8255. Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year in the UK.
UPDATE: Audi UK has released a statement regarding the incident:
At Audi UK, we remain deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Cheese in 2015 and wish to reiterate our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
The inquest heard very personal and painful accounts of events leading to George’s death encompassing all aspects of his life, including his time working for Sytner at its dealership in Reading. We are very sorry for the huge loss felt by all those so tragically affected.
The inquest concluded that a number of factors contributed to George’s death. However, we want to make it clear that both Audi UK and Sytner absolutely condemn any behaviour which is detrimental to the well-being of employees in any of our franchises.