A CEO who reportedly criticized a teenage boy in public for wearing a dress to prom has been fired from his Tennessee company.
Video recorded and shared online showed Dalton Stevens, a senior at Franklin High School, allegedly being criticized by a man identified as Sam Johnson, the former CEO of telemedicine company, VisuWell, WGN 9 reported Tuesday.
“I very much view clothes as genderless,” Stevens said, adding he and his boyfriend, Jacob Geittman, were at the Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin for pictures when Johnson walked up to them.
“Slander terms thrown towards me of like ‘You look bad,’ ‘You’ve got hair on your chest, you shouldn’t be wearing a dress,’ ‘You’re not a man,’ blah, blah, blah,” Stevens alleged.
According to the clip, Johnson told Stevens, “You look like an idiot”:
Homophobic POS in Tennessee harasses a teenager for wearing a dress to prom pic.twitter.com/Ftt2a184jX
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) April 26, 2021
At one point, Stevens said, “I’m sorry, I’m gorgeous,” to which Johnson replied, “Are you?”
In a statement following the incident, VisuWell said, “We unequivocally condemn the behavior exhibited by Sam Johnson in a recent video widely circulated on social media.”
After investigating the matter and speaking to individuals involved, the VisuWell BOD has chosen to terminate Mr. Johnson from his position as CEO, effective immediately. Gerry Andrady, our President and COO, will lead the company through this important time. VisuWell’s culture emphasizes respect, kindness, and compassion, especially for those from traditionally marginalized communities, and we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for intolerance of any kind.
“Mr. Johnson’s actions contradicted the high standards we set for ourselves in promoting the health of those who use our platform,” the company stated.
According to Newsweek, Geittman claimed Johnson was intoxicated and said hotel workers eventually expelled him from the building and called police.
However, Johnson told the outlet the allegations were “entirely false” and the incident “wasn’t anything personal or involving a dress,” but “about obnoxious, loud behavior by this group of teens.”
He claimed he approached the teens to ask them to “tone down the vulgarities around the families and children who were present.”
“We had just sat down for dinner at this restaurant that we frequent, and I was returning from the restroom when I was presented with their loud cursing,” he explained. “Making it about the dress was their idea and they edited out most of the exchange.”
“I have no ill will towards anyone or their personal choices, so long as it does not harm me or my family,” he concluded.