Pathfinder – Business update – Business question of the month (May 2019)

Published by Tim Levey on 29 May 2019

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Tim Levey, Partner and Head of Business Advisory, runs two groups of Business Leaders in Kent. One of the group members recently posed the following ethical question:

“One of our staff complained that a Manager was making inappropriate comments on social media to her. He’s a very good employee. She’s much younger and is a bit flaky. She quite often goes off ill and doesn’t always tell the truth. The conversation started off fairly ok and had been going on a while. He asked her if she wanted to go out for a drink. She interpreted it as everyone going out and kind of ignored it but didn’t outright cut the conversation off. He would then text late at night and was quite persistent then it digressed into what she was wearing.”

Reactions from the group included:

  1. “He’s being inappropriate, but he’s a good worker and she’s flaky.”
  2. “The employer has a duty as an employer and doesn’t want to be sued – bring them both into the meeting and ask if something is amiss to relieve the pressure that has built up. Be open and seek apologies.”
  3. “Speak to them separately first and then together. Note that this all happened outside of work hours and she doesn’t seem to have said “stop it”.”
  4. “If your core values include “integrity” then you need to show that you have dealt with the issue.”
  5. “We had a case where a very good long-term worker was found to have a mattress in the back of his van where he had been with an underage girl. Our clients include schools and he could have brought the firm into disrepute so had to go.”
  6. “We had a similar situation where an experienced member of staff was befriending new recruits who were straight from school on social media and was then being reported to be over familiar in a way that was making the girls uncomfortable. We had a quiet word with him and advised that it wasn’t helping him or his reputation – the behaviour stopped.”

The group member who posed the question then revealed that the Manager was given a written warning as a result. However, a few months later someone else complained about him but left shortly after so they didn’t do anything about it. Some months later two more women complained that he had been messaging them inappropriately on social media. They couldn’t sack him for gross misconduct as they hadn’t deemed the previous actions as such. However they were lucky in that he hadn’t quite reached his two years with the company so he was dismissed anyway. To not to have done so would have condoned his actions.

If you would like to join one of the Intelligo Business Leader groups that discuss these types of issues then I would be interested to hear from you. Please contact tim.levey@krestonreeves.com or on +44 (0)330 124 1399.

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