Last year, Joseph Thomas, a hard-working software engineer, was thrilled to get a job at Uber’s San Francisco headquarters. The $170,000 job, he thought, would give him a chance to grow, and he had turned down an offer from Apple to get there.
But in the space of about a year, Thomas’ mental health declined so much that he committed suicide in late August, and his family is now demanding that Uber be held responsible for his mental decline.
“He was always the smartest guy in the room,” said his father, Joe Thomas, who went on to say that once Thomas started working at Uber, “he went down the tubes. He became someone with very little confidence in himself. The guy just fell apart.”
“It’s hard to explain, but he wasn’t himself at all,” said his wife, Zecole Thomas. “He’d say things like, ‘My boss doesn’t like me.’ His personality changed totally; he was horribly concerned about his work, to the point it was almost unbelievable. He was saying he couldn’t do anything right.”
Then one day, Zecole came home to find that her husband had shot himself, and Joseph Thomas died two days later at the hospital.
“If you put a hard-driving person on unrealistic tasks, it puts them in failure mode,” said his father, who also noted that his son talked about a sort of brainwashing at Uber. “It makes them burn themselves out; like driving a Lamborghini in first gear.”
As for Uber, the company put out the following statement through a spokeswoman: “No family should go through the unspeakable heartbreak the Thomas family has experienced. Our prayers and thoughts are with them.”