Sacked senior Intel sales head accuses IoT chief of perjury

Employment Tribunal hears sex discrimination and wrongful dismissal case

A sacked former Intel senior sales head has accused the company’s global IoT partner director of perjury – and was told to “not put the spin on” by the judge.

Mary Guiney, a former Intel saleswoman assigned to its EMEA Internet of Things business, is suing Chipzilla for £100,000 in what she says is unpaid commission. She has also accused the company of unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and unauthorised deduction of wages after she was made redundant in November 2016.

Intel denies all of her claims and has further counter-claimed against Guiney for £32,000 in what it says is overpaid commission.

At Watford Employment Tribunal in England yesterday, Guiney, who is representing herself, accused global IoT partner director Rod O’Shea of perjuring himself because, she said, he had made an inaccurate statement about his reporting lines within Intel during her time there – something he “did not accept”.

“You can clarify reporting lines. Introducing it as perjury sounds, to me, disproportionate,” tribunal judge Alastair Smail told Guiney. “I was a barrister, right, same as he is,” the judge continued, indicating Intel’s lead counsel, Akash Nawbatt QC. “Barristers have a code of conduct which is, they cannot allege fraud or anything like it unless there’s clear evidence... the safest thing is to explore that [question about reporting lines] and not put the spin on of perjury.”

Guiney’s case hinges on her claim that Rod O’Shea, Intel’s global IoT partner director, had her sacked unfairly because he is, she said, “a misogynist who dislikes strong, confident women”. She alleged in her witness statement to the tribunal that O’Shea, a senior manager, would “influence the first line (reporting) manager to terminate [the employment of] such women, finding any excuse as a reason to ensure they signed a settlement agreement and left”.

“I was fired with a day’s notice in a corridor in Paris,” Guiney told the tribunal, explaining that Intel UK senior HR partner Rachael Merchant dismissed her over the phone, having sent her a calendar invite pre-arranging the call with no indication of what it was about: “I had customers around me, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t ask any questions at all and I wasn’t told who fired me.”

After she fell out with other Intel UK managers, including Northern Europe director Louise Summerton, O’Shea organised an anonymous survey about Guiney, she said. He was said to have circulated that around other managers for their input and then used negative feedback from it as a pretext for Guiney to be given a “improvement required” rating (the lowest available) in her annual review, ultimately leading to her redundancy.

Guiney said that she was able to identify who had made the comments based on pre-hearing disclosure of internal emails, and said: “11 of these comments were real character assassination.” During her cross-examination of O’Shea, she asked him: “Why didn’t you go back to Rick Dwyer [formerly general manager of Intel’s Embedded Sales Group] and Mike Frieswyk [Guiney’s manager; GM, worldwide IoT retail sales] and withdraw those comments?”

O’Shea replied: “This document is not a document that I wrote or was involved in. What I forwarded to Mike was the five pieces of feedback from my team and I summarised some key areas, themes that were emerging. I saw no requirement to remove or change those comments. I thought it was fair and balanced feedback from my senior management team and gave a perspective of specific areas, both positive and for development.”

On Monday, the first day of the hearing, Guiney was cross-examined by Intel’s barrister, Nawbatt. He took her line-by-line through a number of the 1,000-page bundle of emails and other evidence in the case, focusing on one where Guiney herself had written the phrase “it seems to be a classic case of how females work together and make decisions about other females” after she had fallen out with Summerton and other women working at Intel.

“You are making stereotypical assumptions,” said Nawbatt. “You were prepared to make stereotypical assumptions about what was the cause of the issues you were having about female staff members. You made stereotypical assumptions about Mr O’Shea’s reasons for his alleged actions. You have assumed without any evidential foundation that the treatment he subjected you to was on the basis of your gender.”

Guiney replied: “There seemed to be a lot of gossip going on about me among females, unfortunately. I’ve never received an email from somebody I’ve tried to work with telling me I was being sarcastic when I wasn’t being sarcastic. Never. I have sworn [on the Bible to tell the truth], by the way. I’ve never been told I had to work with Louise Summerton or Rod O’Shea.”

In his witness statement, O’Shea claimed customers had complained about Guiney’s conduct, which “took my concern in relation to the claimant [Guiney] to a different level … accordingly I emailed the claimant’s manager and explained that whilst the claimant was a change agent, she also appeared to be burning bridges with colleagues and customers.”

Though she occupied a senior sales post, and said “my manager told me to call myself sales director”, neither Guiney nor Intel appeared clear as to what her job title was, though she did tell the tribunal that she was not a “sales executive”, adding: “It doesn’t matter, you can say anything you want.” Rod O’Shea’s witness statement referred to Guiney being “employed as a grade 86 management level, designating her as a senior employee within Intel’s structure.”

In response to an assertion from Nawbatt about her expenses claims, Guiney also read out her total claim figures for 2015, revealing that between Q2 FY2015 and Q1 FY2016 she was reimbursed a total of £38,000. During the hearing she made frequent references to business trips to multiple countries, including Dubai, where she had won two proof-of-concept demonstrations for customers.

The tribunal panel was chaired by Judge Alastair Smail, who sat with Mr A Scott as the lay employer representative and Ms S Hamill as the lay employee representative. The case continues. ®

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