Sacked saleswoman told to pay Intel £45k after losing discrim case

Judge dismisses complaints, Chipzilla wins big

A former senior saleswoman at Intel who accused the firm of sex discrimination and wrongful dismissal has lost all of her claims and has been ordered to pay the company £45,000 (~$63,000) by the middle of this month.

Watford Employment Tribunal, in Hertfordshire, England, dismissed all of Mary Guiney's claims and ordered her to pay Chipzilla the eye-watering sum after her attempt to claim £100,000 from the firm.

Intel’s Internet of Things global partner director Rod O’Shea discriminated against “strong, confident women” and engineered their dismissals, Guiney told the tribunal in January.

“Rod at no time ever, offered to help or coach me, instead he made my life a misery and deliberately and spuriously damaged my reputation,” she said in her witness statement. O’Shea organised an anonymous managerial survey about Guiney, something she described as unfair because it generated feedback from people who did not actually manage her, she told the tribunal.

The Windsor-based saleswoman, who previously worked for Oracle and IBM, was also warned by the judge to stop accusing O’Shea of perjuring himself after she declared that he had made a mistake in his witness statement about reporting lines.

“You can clarify reporting lines. Introducing it as perjury sounds, to me, disproportionate,” Employment Judge Alastair Smail told Guiney, who represented herself during the week-long January hearing. She was up against barrister Akash Nawbatt QC, acting for Intel, whose cross-examination of her prompted Guiney to exclaim at one point: “Yesterday you walked all over me, barely letting me answer. Implying I deserved being fired!”

Quoting from one of O’Shea’s emails, Nawbatt asked whether she truly believed her claim that O’Shea was a sexist bigot.

“I’d like to give specific examples of what she’s doing well and areas for development. Could you reply please and give specific examples,” said an email from O’Shea to Guiney’s senior colleagues. Having read this out during the hearing, Nawbatt then took her to task:

“Here he’s doing two things. He’s asking for specific examples and that’s fair, isn’t it, because what he’s trying to avoid is generalisations, he’s wanting specific examples. You see, it’s also balanced because it’s not saying ‘please provide me with everything negative about her,’ he’s asking both for things you’re doing well and things for development.”

Guiney replied: “Yes, I see that.”

Nawbatt then pressed his point home: “That’s a balanced request, isn’t it?” to which Guiney conceded: “It looks as if…” before hastily adding “...but I know it’s not because I’ve seen what went on.”

The sacked saleswoman, who was dismissed in October 2016, after receiving an “improvement required” grading (the lowest available) during her annual appraisal, said she was fired “with a day’s notice in a corridor in Paris” during a phonecall with Intel HR worker Rachael Merchant, in between scheduled meetings with potential clients. Guiney’s witness statement said: “Denying me my commission payment of £100k (before tax) after unfairly dismissing me with one day’s notice, subjecting me to a biased grievance with my numerous emails constantly being ignored is really despicable as well as illegal.”

Intel counter-claimed against Guiney for £32,000 (~$45,000), a sum it described as overpaid commission. She disputed this during proceedings, alleging that Salesforce records which would have verified her claim that the sum was rightly hers were not produced by Intel. Emails referred to in her witness statement showed that she immediately asked about maintaining access to Salesforce to verify her commission once she had been fired.

However, even Judge Smail questioned the basis for Guiney’s claim that her commission was unfairly docked by sexists, asking her: “Are you saying the reason they told you you owed £32k is because you are a woman?” to which she responded, after a pause: “Probably not.”

“Those allegations were only raised when you personally were at risk of redundancy, yes?” chipped in Nawbatt. Damningly, Guiney conceded: “Well, that is correct, yes.”

“A number of the [sales] wins were removed from the total [commission paid] due to your limited involvement in the work,” Nawbatt continued.

In a summary judgement published recently, of the £45,000 that Guiney was ordered to hand over to Intel by the middle of this month, £20,000 was for Chipzilla’s legal costs, while £25,000 was repayment of the overpaid commission. She was given two weeks from 26 February to pay up. ®

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