A business recently dismissed an employee for criticising the quality of the business’s products and its management.  This was despite the fact that the employee had worked for the business for 39 years.

The employee in question was a salesperson and was visiting a client to discuss various aspects of the business with the client.  Unknown to the employee, while talking to the client, he had accidently pressed a speed dial on his mobile phone which connected him through to his manager. This allowed his manager to hear the employee’s conversation with the client.  It was during this conversation that the employee criticised the company.

The employee’s manager reported the conversation to senior managers and a disciplinary investigation was conducted which resulted in the employee being dismissed for serious misconduct.

The employee raised a personal grievance and the matter was heard by the Employment Relations Authority.  The Authority held that the decision to dismiss the employee in this particular situation was justified.  The investigation carried out by the business was fair and it appropriately found that the employee had breached his duties towards his employer.

Accordingly, and despite the fact that the employee claimed that this was a private conversation, his personal grievance application was dismissed.

This case demonstrates that an employee is required to be loyal to his or her employer and that it is not appropriate to criticise the employer.  It also shows the importance of carrying out a robust investigation.

If you would like more advice on this matter or other employment issues, please call Alan Knowsley.