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.
Ouch! So what happened?
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.
I’m reminded here of a post written by the Oilfield Expat:
“If you want to know if somebody is any good, don’t bother asking their manager: a manager is never going to tell you their subordinate is crap. Instead ask one of their colleagues, particularly someone who was relying on them to deliver something. They’ll tell you the truth.”
But this isn’t really relevant. This is, however:
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…
Being told off by a judge for accusing the defendant of perjury is pretty damning. What the hell was her lawyer doing?
…who represented herself during the week-long January hearing.
*Meaty slap to forehead.*
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!”
Oh dear lord! What was this woman thinking, representing herself in a discrimination case and going up against a QC hired by a multi-national corporation! Was she trying to save money, or she thought she had the legal skills to argue the case herself?
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.”
Groan. There’s a saying out there which goes “there’s nothing so expensive as a cheap lawyer”. It appears having no lawyer costs you £45k. If she’d spent £250-300 on an hour’s consultation, she would have at least been told whether she had a case or not. I’m no lawyer, but it seems she’s been treated harshly:
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.
This seems rather unfair, but is it illegal? Well, that’s what a lawyer would have told her, and she would also have been advised whether it’s worth opening a case, and told her the chances of winning. A proper lawyer might also, for a lot less than £45k, have won her a settlement before it ever got to court. And if it did, the lawyer would manage the case so scenes like this wouldn’t ensue:
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.”
I tried lawyering on the cheap once. It didn’t work and the problem remained. I hired an expensive lawyer, and he took care of it within days. It might seem dear at the time, but in the long run it’s worth it. It’s a lesson everyone has to learn one way or another.