FRANKLIN, Tenn. — A Tennessee man was fired from his job as the CEO of a telehealth company after an altercation with a teenager who wore a dress for prom.
A TikTok video that went viral over the weekend captures Sam Johnson following teenager Dalton Stevens around the outside of the Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin, Tennessee, where Johnson called Stevens an idiot for wearing the dress to prom at Franklin High School.
Johnson was the CEO of VisuWell, a telehealth platform company, until the video went viral. The company posted on Twitter Monday night that Johnson was removed as CEO by the board of directors.
“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,” VisuWell said on Twitter. “Mr. Johnson’s actions contradicted the high standards we set for ourselves in promoting the health of those who use our platform.”
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Visuwell made a second statement on Twitter Tuesday, stating that Johnson is no longer employed by the company in any capacity.
“He no longer has a position on the Board of Directors or any informal advisory role. His behavior was not representative of our values, which include respect and compassion for all,” the statement said.
The incident, which occurred Saturday evening, was captured by Jacob Geittmann, Stevens’ boyfriend, who posted it to TikTok where it went viral and caught the attention of national news outlets.
The video shows Johnson standing close to Geittmann and Stevens without wearing a mask and leering at Stevens for wearing a red prom dress. Stevens yelled at the man to “(expletive) off” and leave them alone.
“I’m sorry, I’m gorgeous,” Stevens told Johnson.
“Are you?” Johnson asked with a grin.
The video captures audio of a woman, whom Geittmann identified as a mom of another prom attendee, approaching Johnson and begging him to stop so the couple could enjoy their prom night.
“I didn’t let it ruin my night,” Stevens told The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network. “I still walked into that school knowing I was wearing a dress with six-inch heels and was serving all the looks. And anybody who wants to look can look. A guy can look just as hot in a dress as a girl can.”
Franklin police concerned by incident, willing to investigate
In a follow-up TikTok video, Geittmann explained what went down before filming.
Stevens chose to wear the dress to break the stigma of men wearing dresses. Geittmann said that his boyfriend looked gorgeous in the stunning red dress and that they encountered no problems until entering the hotel where they came across Johnson.
Johnson told Stevens he shouldn’t wear a dress and began insulting him, calling him disgusting for his prom attire, Geittmann said, which led Geittmann to start recording the rest of the encounter.
Geittmann said when he pulled out his phone to record, Johnson smacked the phone out of his hand and knocked it to the ground. While that was not caught on camera, a second attempt by Johnson to knock Geittmann’s phone away is. He missed and instead smacked Stevens.
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When hotel staff approached Johnson after the incident, Geittmann said Johnson denied any wrongdoing and said he didn’t harass or smack the teen.
Franklin police spokesman Lt. Charles Warner confirmed to the USA TODAY Network that officers responded to the incident.
Officers responded to the hotel after receiving a call from management about an unwanted person. Management told police that a man was involved in a confrontation in the courtyard with teens, but they had already left.
When officers arrived, Warner said they discovered the man sitting at the bar and told him he needed to leave the hotel. He denied the altercation to police.
The department received the video of the altercation and is concerned by it, Warner said. There is no record of anyone other than hotel management calling to report the incident, but Warner said if Geittmann or Stevens wanted to pursue the matter, the department will investigate.
“I’m not sure how far I really want to take this or if it needs to go further,” Stevens said.
Williamson County Schools, the district in which Franklin High School sits, has since commented on the incident.
“This incident did not happen at a school event or on school property. However, Williamson County Schools continues to encourage our students, staff and community members to treat each other with dignity and respect at all times,” a WCS spokesperson said in an email to the USA TODAY Network.
Follow Brinley Hineman on Twitter @brinleyhineman.