Viral Video of St. Louis Man Drinking/Sledding while Collecting Workers Comp Leads to Termination
Devin Thomas O’Shea of the Riverfront Times reported that February 3, 2022 marked the first substantial snowfall of the winter in St. Louis, Missouri, and children and adults alike flocked to “Art Hill” at the Saint Louis Art Museum for some good, old-fashioned sledding, which would eventually lead to one man’s spot on the unemployment line.
According to O’Shea, a Post-Dispatch photographer by the name of David Carson captured two men, 45-year-old Kris Naeger and 34-year-old Kevin Venice on Art Hill with cans of Busch, Fireball shooters, and makeshift sleds made from repurposed dumpster covers. Naeger did all of the talking, stating, “I’m sledding, having fun,” and Venice stood in the background smiling, “raising his can in salute,” and drinking. Naeger also revealed he and Venice’s employment in the video, indicating that, “I’m IBEW Local 1,” and Venice, “this guy’s a scab, he does HVAC, non-union but he’s still my buddy, Kevin.” Carson posted the short video to Twitter, and it went viral.
All in good fun, of course, until someone loses their job. That someone being Kevin Venice, shortly after the video’s release. Venice’s coworkers claim that the video was the cause. But why?
Venice told the Riverfront Times that, “he recently moved to St. Louis from Quincy, Illinois. Three months into an on-site training program (he asked us not to mention the name of his former employer), he got injured while lifting a heavy object, hyperextending his arm, pulling his muscles and pinching his nerves.” O’Shea noted that he was prescribed painkillers and was to keep his arm in a sling, while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. There was no sling when he went sledding on February 3, 2022, when the video went viral.
O’Shea writes, “he realizes now how his boozy cavorting might have looked bad. But at the time it didn’t occur to him that appearing on tape might cost him his job. ‘I didn’t even think about it. Who would have thought two guys drinking Busch beers on dumpster sleds would go viral?’”
Additionally, the article states that Venice, “was only given the vaguest reason for his firing – ‘work ethic.’ But privately, coworkers told him it was because he was caught on camera without his sling, he said. Venice’s employer tells us his termination was unrelated to the Art Hill incident, and that human resources had no knowledge of the video, or of Venice’s appearance on the front page of the Post-Dispatch.”
The internet strikes again!