Feeds

Email insult sacking was unfair

But blame shared, says Tribunal

The Power of One Infographic

A woman whose email insults about her boss caused her to be sacked was unfairly dismissed, an Employment Tribunal has ruled. But she will not be reinstated and will only receive compensation of 12.5 per cent of her losses because she was 75 per cent to blame.

Agnes Wilkie was a television producer with Scottish Television (STV), the Scottish ITV franchise. She was suspended then sacked from her £70,000 a year job as head of features when emails were discovered referring to her boss Bobby Hain as 'a big fat thing' and 'blob'.

Hain discovered mails which had been sent to his personal assistant and was said at the Tribunal to have been "mortified". Wilkie was accused of having behaved in a way that was "tantamount to bullying", but said that nicknames "came with the territory".

Hain was said to have had the name Mr Bobby when he worked as a disc jockey, and that the nickname Mr Blobby, after the lurid pink and yellow toy that was for years Noel Edmond's on-air colleague, developed from that.

The Tribunal said that blame for the situation was to be shared. Wilkie was 75 per cent responsible for the situation because her behaviour was calculated to undermine Hain and her conduct was serious.

It found, though, that the dismissal of Wilkie was unfair because she had offered to apologise, but that offer was rejected.

Following the discovery of the initial email, Wilkie was suspended in November 2005. Hain had found the email when he was searching through his PA's mails, with permission, when she was off sick.

On finding out that the mail had been discovered, Wilkie wrote to the PA to say: "Poor Bobby. Let me go and apologise and explain the context". Instead, the company made further investigations and found other emails.

Because of Wilkie's role in the situation, her compensation was reduced to 12.5 per cent of her loss, the Tribunal said.

"I shouldn't have sent the email like that because it caused hurt," said Wilkie. "I referred to a member of the company in the same terms as most people in the company happily referred to him. Most people in my industry would say: 'I've written worse than that'."

"We welcome the panel's decision that Ms Wilkie's behaviour was calculated to undermine Bobby Hain, constituting a fundamental breach of contract," said an STV statement. "We believe strongly that all our people have the right to be treated with courtesy."

"We argued from the start that the process was flawed," said Paul Holleran, the Scottish organiser for the National Union of Journalists. "There is a lesson here for employers to take a reasonable approach and not to overreact. It is also a lesson to all workers to take care when using e-mails."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.