Zachry Employee Fired Over E-Mail Commits Suicide

Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, Feb. 3, 2006

A former employee of Zachry Construction Corp. died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head Thursday—the same week he was fired for sending an e-mail to a city councilwoman who deemed the message “very racial and very discriminatory.”

George Dickerson, 52, was pronounced dead around 9:15 a.m. in the backyard of his home in the 600 block of Glencrest. Police said his death was a suicide.

His suicide occurred the same day the San Antonio Express-News ran an article detailing an e-mail Dickerson sent Monday to City Councilwoman Elena Guajardo. In it, Dickerson complained about Graham Central Station, a large nightclub across from Oak Hills, the Northwest Side subdivision where Dickerson lived with his wife.

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In his e-mail to Guajardo, Dickerson had railed against the “undesirable, low-class elements from bad parts of the city” that the club attracts “into our upper-class part of the city for which we pay a very large tax burden in which to live to be safe and away from such elements.”

He also wrote that entertainment at the club was of a “lude, lascivious, low-class, debaucheristic, criminalistic, riot insistic, anarchistic nature.”

Dickerson lived in Oak Hills about eight years and recently had met with the neighborhood association to discuss problems with Graham Central Station, which is on Fredericksburg Road just outside Loop 410. His e-mail to Guajardo was meant to rectify long-standing safety concerns related to the nightclub, Oberman said.

Dickerson “was not racist,” Oberman said. “He was concerned about beer bottles, fast drivers and a lot of ruckus going on that was not good for his neighborhood.”

Vicky Waddy, a spokeswoman for Zachry, said Dickerson was fired for violating the company’s computer use policy.

Zachry issued a prepared statement Thursday that read, “We are shocked and saddened to learn of George’s death. We regret that this matter became public and evolved into a personal tragedy.”

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Beware of what you say on the company e-mail. A longtime employee of a local construction company was fired Tuesday because of comments he sent to his city councilwoman.

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Zachry Spokeswoman Vicky Waddy said, “There was a consensus that it was something that we wouldn’t tolerate within the company.” When Coyle asked whether he deserved to be fired, given that he had been with the company for 27 years, she explained, “When the company’s reputation is at stake all of the employees are speaking and acting as part of this company and when that is not in keeping with the culture of this company, action is taken.”

This comes less than a year after another Zachry employee, Ken Wolf, resigned because of his now-infamous e-mail where he called the East side a “ghetto.” Zachry had since re-trained employees about the company’s e-mail policy.

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