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(26 Posts)
tigermoth Fri 02-Aug-02 16:36:12

I've just found out some unsettling news about my last job and wondered if anyone can advise me.

I was made redundant a few months ago. The procedure was legal - I had all the paperwork checked. I am really happy not to be working for this company. It was time for me to move on - in fact I had been looking to move a year beforehand.

I have had little to do with the company since I left but I happened to phone an ex colleague today. They told me that my ex boss had now moved in with one of my ex co workers. They have both left their partners and are arranging custody of their children. Their affair is now common knowledge.

This knowledge has thrown my boss's attitude towards our team, me in particular, into sharp relief. At one stage he was a reasonable mentor and wanted to promote me. However he changed and became at times openly hostile in the last year, refusing to acknowledge any good work me or the rest of our team produced.

Despite company worries over the amount of downtime our team was amassing, last year a new person joined. Our boss had strongly and very publically pressed for a new recruit. He closely mentored her from day one, while continuing to ignore the rest of us. Yes, you've guessed it - this is the person he is now living with

People have wondered if the affair was already in full swing before she joined and he managed to get her the job - they live in the same area.

I couldn't give a monkey's about their private lives. However, on the work front, this person was my direct 'rival' during the redundancy processs. We all had to reapply for our jobs, then two were kept while two were made redundant.

The criteria used was heavily weighted in her favour, but still just about 'legal'. I had it checked at the time.

It is all behind me now, I am getting freelance work established (though not so easy in the present economic climate), and have a redundancy insurance policy to tide me by in the meantime, but I am wondering if it is worth the hassle of getting further legal advice about the redundancy, now I have the full story?

sb34 Fri 02-Aug-02 16:43:58

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sml Fri 02-Aug-02 18:24:19

Worth adding that this is the sort of situation that a trade union can give you free legal help and backing on - are you by any chance a union member, Tigermoth?

Mopsy Fri 02-Aug-02 18:55:05


It does sound suspicious and doesn't it - it's amazing how sometimes it takes time for the full picture to reveal itself.

I experienced a similar situation with an ex employer a couple of years ago so I can empathise completely - and yes, if I had the emotional, financial and time resources I think I might do something about it. However, I feel time has moved on - and so have I - and raking up the past and putting together a winnable legal case would, I believe, have a huge negative impact on us as a family.

Many years ago (when young and passably attractive ) I was in the situation of your ex 'rival' colleague - and if my boss/then partner had known what it would stir up with our other colleagues we would never have gone near eachother! I was promoted - completely honestly and deservedly - but of course it was seen by everyone else as my financial/status reward for sleeping with him! A colleague even complained about this to senior management and we had to explain ourselves, they weren't interested in the fact we were having a relationship but my promotion had to be reviewed by a human resources panel. They disagreed with it, and for various reasons I ended up doing a deal for a lump sum 'compensation'payment (not enough service for redundancy) in exchange for my quiet resignation. My boss wasn't disciplined - no 'offence' had been committed in anyone's eyes despite the fact that they'd "proved" my promotion was inappropriate - and the whole investigation was overseen by my, his and their solicitors and union reps.

I also feel that in situations like this where intimate relationships are at the crux of the matter, it can be difficult or even impossible to get honest answers from people. My gut feeling is that although perhaps you could present a strong 'theory', it would be extremely difficult to prove. But as you have had every other aspect checked out legally you might decide to run this past your adviser too. Good luck with whatever you decide.

love Mopsy xx

Mopsy Fri 02-Aug-02 19:00:39

where did that 'and' come from ? x

ks Fri 02-Aug-02 19:41:07

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WideWebWitch Fri 02-Aug-02 20:14:31

Tigermoth, I'd be mightily p****d off about this I think. Mmmm, it may have all been legal but this does smack of favouritism doesn't it? I'm not sure whether I'd pursue it (did this with taking an employer to tribunal a few years ago and it was hell: stressful and expensive) but agree that maybe you should run it past someone and see whether they think you have any redress. If you have then it might be worth getting them to write the company a legal letter and you could take it from there.

janh Fri 02-Aug-02 20:57:18

tigermoth, definitely check this out with the CAB. They can give you advice and any expert help you need for nothing, and if they think this deserves taking further they will be with you all the way.

If your local CAB doesn't have an employment law expert ask them if they can find one from another branch. My DH was removed from his job by very underhand means several years ago - not a "personal relationship" but a new FD wanted his chap in instead, leaving us with no severance pay or income, and we were lucky enough to have a brilliant employment law person locally - it took months, we never got to the tribunal in the end but they offered what was then a substantial settlement, about 4 months' pay, these days the limits are higher.

You say you were "made redundant" (which is more than my DH was) but under what sort of terms? Could be that you should not have been let go and you can clobber them. Go for it, girl!

robinw Sat 03-Aug-02 05:09:39

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tigermoth Sat 03-Aug-02 08:46:57

thanks all,

I will go to a CAB employment law expert and run it past them. Glad to hear your husband had such success janh. This is one instance when I can approach the problem with all guns blazing, since I don't fear offending anyone because I've left. I will definitely give it my best shot (excuse the pun).

Unfortunately, sml, I do not belong to a union - advertising isn't a very unionised business. However there is an organisation for ad people that gives impartial and free advice on legal and all other issues. I have called on them before and will do now.

As you say, Mopsy, the facts are hazy, so difficult to prove and I don't want to waste time, and especially money, bringing a case to court unless I am pretty sure of success or an out of court settlement from the company.

References, yes, that's worth bearing in mind Robinw. I know that you can request a decent reference as part of a settlement, but still wonder what would then happen if, say, a prospective employer phoned the HR department for an informal chat about me.

Off to the CAB, then!

WideWebWitch Sat 03-Aug-02 08:54:12

Tigermoth, they are NOT allowed, by law, informally or otherwise, to give you a bad reference. They could get away with a minimum type one though.

tigermoth Sat 03-Aug-02 10:17:34

true, wickedwaterwitch - I'm worried about getting the the minimum type one as well. Needs looking into carefully. I keep going through the events in my head. Just as well I did not slag off my boss that much to my rival while she was there 'undercover' during the tense times our team suffered.

Marina Sat 03-Aug-02 20:07:38

With the others on this, Tigermoth - definitely get some advice from the CAB or your professional association. This sounds very underhand - and you must be one of the only people I can think of who has the discretion and fairness *not* to have slagged this charmer off to your other colleagues during those tense times. Hurrah for your innate sense of justice!
And good luck with the freelancing career.

Batters Sat 03-Aug-02 20:32:26

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CAM Sat 03-Aug-02 20:55:19

The thing about redundancy is that it is by law the job or position that is "redundant" rather than the person. It always looks suspicious to me that someone with far less experience or time in a job is chosen over the longer-term employee. Why bring new people in if there is a question mark over how long the position will be needed? Making people reapply for their jobs is always a very underhand way of "structural reorganisation" in itself and I don't agree with it. Companies use strange methods to get around employment laws - I wonder whether these should be tested by tribunals, etc more often. The problem is it is usually an individual concerned and as such they feel powerless or simply do not have the time, energy or money to do anything. Wish you luck Tigermoth.

robinw Sat 03-Aug-02 21:52:08

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SueW Sun 04-Aug-02 01:01:20

I'm speechless over such a reference. Did it not specify why? And did no-one question it? I'd be so curious I'd be on the phone wanting to know more and be tempted to ignore it as vindictiveness!

The whole reference thing really ticks me off. I had to do a reference once for someone and we were all discussing what I should write (the person I was referencing was included). I went through the basics of what I was going to say and someone pointed out that I hadn't mentioned her honesty and that omission meant that I thought she was dishonest! For goodness sake.... I'm not a professional referee. It took me back to an interview with a certain High St bank I had as a teenager where I was asked to list the qualities of a good bank employee. I missed out honesty then too. It's such a basic part of my upbringing that I, apparently unfortunately, tend to think of it of something of little note! Which was exactly what I told him. They offered me a job but I took great pleasure it turning it down. After all, an interview is a two way process and I didn't want to work with people like him!

WideWebWitch Sun 04-Aug-02 08:54:59

RobinW, point taken, you're right, omission is as telling as inclusion. And you're right, if Tigermoth didn't see the reference (as far as I know she has no right to) there's no way she would know if it was a bad one/minimum one.

I do have a friend who started a job subject to references and was then 'let go' once the reference came in because it was a bad one from his former employers. He threatened the former employers with legal action and they paid up rather than go to tribunal as they knew they were in the wrong. However cases where you get to see what has been written about you must be pretty rare.

robinw Sun 04-Aug-02 09:20:26

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tigermoth Sun 04-Aug-02 09:56:51

I never realised that what is missing from a reference is so important. Does this also apply to personal references from friends and old teachers etc?

I am no stranger to out of court settlements. Years ago, after 4 years service, an employer suddenly told me my contract was`'terminated'. Wouldn't say the word 'redundant' and tried to give my just one measly month's salary in lieu of notice. Times were hard and the company was about to fold so I guess they were trying to cut corners. Anyway, I got legal advice, which lead to an out of court settlement and a reference. I was allowed to see it - and approve it. That was part of the deal.

It was brief and basic - the legal prooceedings had been acrimonious - but at the time I thought it was adequate. With hindsight, it was probably no help and even a hindrance to my future jub hunting. However I did go on to secure a good job after, and my new employees did see the reference.

I know of others in the company who could give me a reference but I notice that many application forms state they want a reference from your line manager. Anyway, if you bypass your line manager and offer a reference from a colleagu or HR, isn't this omission going to give cause for concern?

RobinW, It must have been so tempting to tell that woman something. I think of her going from interview to interview, wondering why the discussion has gone so well, yet still getting a 'no'. But as you say you couldn't risk her employers sueing your company for breach of confidentiality.

You know, I wonder what would happen if I got a friend to pose as a potential employer and approach my old boss, just to see what written and verbal references he would supply? Luckily, with freelance work, a reference is not a big issue. However, I don't want to burn my boats regarding permanent work.

WideWebWitch Sun 04-Aug-02 11:48:16

Good idea about getting a friend to pose as an employer to find out what would be said. Another way of getting around references is to say that your old company don't give detailed references because of possible litigation (this is completely true of one of my ex employers - a global corporation - who will *never* give anything other than dates, title and salary details) and to give a friendly ex managers name etc instead.

robinw Sun 04-Aug-02 13:38:54

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SueW Sun 04-Aug-02 14:59:37

My CV's full of holes filled in as you mention RobinW e.g. December 2000 to August 2001 - Our family lived in Australia whilst my husband worked on a contract there. I was full-time carer to our daughter.

robinw Sun 04-Aug-02 22:03:03

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Lucy123 Mon 05-Aug-02 10:47:13

But sadly, Robinw, there is still a lot of prejudice out there. My mum went for an interview and they asked what her greatest acheivemnet was - she said bringing up 5 kids on her own but said she could see from the interviewers' faces that she lost it at that point (and she's good at these things).

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