Good for Trafford Housing Trust. If this man identified himself as their emplyee and made statements contrary to their policies then he deserves what happened. His comments were deeply offensive. His implication is that gay Christians are not real Christians or that gay friendly Christian religious organisations like the Quakers are not valid. His statements are deeply flawed; if two gay Quakers want to marry each other in church because of their religious beliefs then who is he to say they their belief is worthless?
Bad for Trafford Hosuing Turst. Complete travesty.
Completely and utterly disagree.
The Trust have a public sector duty to uphold equality standards and the gentleman involved gave his personal opinion on a website which disclosed his employers – and in the event of intolerance then this has to be confronted and challenged.
Well done to Trafford Housing Trust
No-one should be sacked for having an opinion. The Trust is acting like a mini version of Orwell’s thought police.
It wasnt just a thought … he publicised that thought in a forum where people could link it to his employer -thats the key issue …
He could have his opinion, he could even discuss it publically – he is not allowed to do so in a manner where it could be seen (whether intentionally or not) as being linked to his employer …
Most employers have social networking policies which staff are required to comply with – I strongly suspect he would be in breach of such a policy
He wasn’t. He was sacked for repeatedly breaking the rules of his employer. He is making these comments to justify his own wrong actions.
What really matters in his situation is whether his beliefs have an effect on his ability to do his job in a professional manner. If his beliefs conflict with his employer’s policy, they should only concern themselves with whether he maintains his professionalism. What has a housing trust got to do with marriage anyway?
If some people find his comments “deeply offensive” that is not a reason for him not to say them. If the implications are as you say they are, the most you can do is argue against him.
Who is he to say their belief is worthless? I don’t think he actually said that, but if that is an implication you draw from his remarks then you are as free to do that as he should be to speak his beliefs.
He can hold any opinion he likes as far as I’m concerned… However he linked himself to his employer on facebook and made them guilty by association. They had no choice, really.
Anonymous just hacked a child porno site, this is more proof that they are just another Right Wing Christian terrorist group trying to stop all “sinners”.
How come they are not hacking the world bankers who they are now protesting in the Occupy Wall Street thing around the world? Seems that was their main target to help the 99% unless the 99% were having trouble with the pedophiles, LOL the only people who are having trouble is the Catholic Church and their pedophile priest. Ok the connection is in reference to Dromio who talks about “real christians” and ANONYOMOUS are real christians, like the KKK in the US they wear mask and stop sinners or anybody who is not one of them.
Guilt by association is for McCarthyite witch huners like us.
He should not have been demoted. He expressed a view in relation to religious marriage, which actually reflects the current and intended law, i.e. that religious organisations and places of worship should not be forced to conduct civil partnerships, or if introduced, gay marriage. He did this in his own time on a private internet site. We are in danger of eroding the freedom of speech of those we disagree with in this country which is incredibly dangerous.
Of course – but on the same site he said who he worked for – linking his employer to his views. That is why he was disciplined.
There’s an awful lot of people who list their employer’s name on their FB profile. There’s a world of difference between that and implying/saying that your employer endorses your point of view. If you can’t see that, you need to get a life.
If the man had said something that implied he would discriminate against gay people in his job, then there would be every reason to throw the book at him. Sack him. If he had said that he was speaking for his employer, when he didn’t, then ditto.
But all he did was state a point of view that’s pretty much consistent with the current state of the law. Big deal.
No one is saying he was representing his employers views …
However, he was reckless as to whether it could be interpreted as his employers views and this cause either actual and/or potential disrepute for his employer …
He was disciplined for specifically breaching a code of conduct in relation to employees using sites like fb. This PN article is quite misleading.
I wouldnt say the PN article is misleading … it merely mentions the content of what was said on the FB site that led his employer to be concerned about his use
Of course he exercised his democratic right to use freedom of speech …
The problem was he linked his comments (of a view which he is entitled to hold – I believe him to be wrong – but he is entitled to his views) to a profile which identified himself as an employee of the housing trust – he reaps what he sows (as some Christians may say …) …
Frankly I don’t understand why pathologically biased and hateful people like Adrian Smith have the nerve to call themselves Christians. It is obvious he does not respect or acknowledge other peoples religious freedom.
After what he wrote, how can gay men and lesbian women who use the Trafford Housing Trust have confidence that they won’t be discriminated against unfairly while Adrian Smith remains in the Trust’s employ?
he certainly has a twisted view of reality
well his opinion actualy seems suprisingly rational which is odd if he hadnt linked himself to his employer he wouldve been fine and i would say that he hadnt done anything actualy wrong however as he did then unfortunatly the employer is justified in punishing him
He seems to have been implying that religious organisations are to be forced to carry out weddings for gay people, which is of course totally false.
I see the thought police are active again! He is entitled to his views, offensive though they are, and should not be punished for expressing them. No way do his public comments implicate his ridiculously over-reacting employers. Anyway, his point was he couldn’t understand why non-Christiasn should want to get married in church – what’s wrong with that statement?
Gay people can be Christians too. And how many of the straight people marrying in a church does he think are really that keen Christians anyway? He also misrepresented the current campiagn by implying that churches would be compelled to marry same sex couples, which is quite clearly rubbish, as no church is forced to marry divorcees or those of other faiths, for example.
And now the UnChristian Institute are representing him! Great.
He is entitled to all the views that you make in your statement …
He is entitled to discuss them wherever he likes …
He is not entitled to link those views to his employer …
His employer have a duty (under the equality act) to demonstrate their commitment to fairness and transparency to all …
His employer have a duty to protect their reputation …
He reaps what he sows … foolish man …
I totally agree. I think that is exactly what Carl was saying, yet he gets marked down for it. To quote the old Voltaire adage “I may disagree with what you say, but defend to the death your right to say it.”
I actually see no reason why he cannot mention his employer. I think people are being far too sensitive. You often see disclaimers to the effect of “The comments are not necessarily the opinions of XYZ or it’s management” etc. Free speech is being eroded and next time somebody red arrows someone’s opinion, just remember, it could be you next time, and it may be your thoughts or opinions that are censored, redacted or you get the sack for.
Well I profoundly disagree with you Spanner – employees have a clear responsibility to ensure that they to do not bring their employer into disrepute …
I remember during the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence enquiry a phrase that was used by my Chief Constable “I can not change what your thoughts are, nor would I want to do so … I can tell you that you will not bring any prejudiced mindset into your professional duty nor cause such mindsets to bring the police service into disrepute …”
He wasn’t disciplined for his views, but for breaching a clearly defined policy about using fb.
It’s not about thought police, it’s about offending your colleagues and the people you serve as a public sector body.
How must gay people who use that service think when stuff like this is posted on FB?
It’s no different to hearing abuse from a guy working in the post office.
You would report it, challenge those views, or at the least expect this guy not to be harassing people with airing these views publicly and bringing his employer into disrepute.
Absolutely Tigra07 – could not agree more
Never-the-less the Daily Fail is making him the victim as usual
Guess if you believe everything you read in the Daily Mail that says it all about you.
This isn’t an issue of whether his views are right or wrong. You simply cannot nowadays list your employer on your Facebook. Anyone who does needs to be extremely careful what they say. I no longer list my employer on Facebook, and even though I consider my manager at work a very close friend, I’ve told him I have a rule not to have anyone from work on Facebook. His views don’t really offend me, I think everyone has a right to an opinion and his view, and the way he illustrated it, was not overtly rude or hostile. However, he cannot link his employer to these views – in doing so, he tarnishes the image of Trafford Housing Trust, and the only way they can reasonably maintain public confidence is dealing with issues like this swiftly and make the consequences serious enough to send a message. I actually think he should have been dismissed as they deemed it to be gross misconduct, I don’t think moving someone with such views into a lower rank serves much of a purpose.
I agree that if gross misconduct was the charge, he should have been dismissed.
Trafford Housing was right to discipline him, they would have been guilty by association for not doing so, and thus made the correct choice. He shouldn’t have said it anyway! What has religion got to do with his housing job anyway? Oh, another bible toting, narrow minded senile character is out and about preaching trash and hoping people will listen.
I agree that everyone is entitled to freedom of speech, & if he’d made his comments to a friend in a bar, then that would be fine. He chose to publish them on Facebook. There lies his stupidity. His Facebook profile connects him to his employer. THT is a charitable organisation set up by the government, & all public sector, & organisations in similar domains have, rightfully, extremely strict policies surrounding the use of social networking sites, & equality & diversity. Even remarks in ‘private’ messages are said to be in the public domain. If his comments breach their policy, they have to be seen to take firm action. THT support a large lgbt community. They can’t allow employees to damage the relationship with the community they serve. They’re also putting themselves in a position whereby if they don’t take firm action, legal action may be taken against them by members of the lgbt community. I notice he’s represented by the Christian Society, our fave gay bashers! Enough said!
being a public sector body its actualy a bit more than simply strict policies, they are bound by the ‘public sector equality duty’ a suprisingly often overlooked bit of legislation by the masses as it were (although i suppose if u dont work in the public sector why would we need to know about it heh)
The facts of this case are not sufficiently detailed but I would have thought THT may be in difficulty in an employment tribunal.
It will be interesting to see what was the actual misconduct – the posting of an opinion on a private Facebook page, the stating of his employer on his Facebook page or his view that gay civil marriage was acceptable but that churches should not be required to perform them.
The misconduct is making a discriminatory remark in a forum where his employer is associated with his name, thereby bringing the image of the employer into disrepute. This seems a potentially fair reason for demotion to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s listed as a term in his contract.
Provided THT have followed the correct procedures and investigated properly, I can’t see an appeal to an ET would be successful. Then again, I’m not a lawyer, and perhaps you are!
Either way I would be very disappointed if he were reinstated/compensated by the ET.
Can an ET reinstate a person who has been demoted? What are their powers?
Well given that they have the power to reinstate in the case of unfair dismissal, one would assume they have the power to promote someone back in the case of a demotion. They don’t do this unless the employee requests it though. By far the most common remedy is financial compensation which I would assume he is seeking.
I suspect (but am not an expert on employment law) that the person would have to make a claim of constructive dismissal ….
I was going to mention the constructive dismissal route, but we’re not told whether he is going down that road or not. If he is, it’s important to note that constructive dismissal is not necessarily unfair. THT simply need to show their actions were justified, and that they showed substantive and procedural fairness. Two of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal are ‘conduct’ and ‘some other substantial reason’. With the former, actions outside of the workplace are only a reason for dismissal if they directly affect the employee’s ability to do his job so one would assume his claim would be brought under the latter. Not having all the facts of the case, including not knowing whether THT carried out substantive and procedural fairness, it is impossible to know what would happen. Assuming they did act appropriately given the nature of the organisation, and given what he said in the article, I find it difficult to see how an ET would find him constructively dismissed.
ALSO, I have very limited knowledge of employment law myself (I am studying it, but at a basic level), so I really have as much clue as the next person. However, I too am very interested to see how this case turns out, at the very least it’s a good way to revise!
I also interpret employment law on this case in the way you see it …
Certainly constructive dismissal is not always unfair. (A good example being the disciplinary punishment available to police services “requirement to resign”).
It will be interesting to see how this plays out …
I think a person has to have quit their job to claim constructive dismissal.
Trafford Housing Trust have been clever not to dismiss him. If he were to seek an Employment Tribunal solution it would be difficult and of course compensation is capped. He would have to resign claiming “constructive dismissal”. This is extremely difficult to prove. Seems to me he is being sponsored to bring a civil action for damages for breach of his Human Rights. This of course removes any ‘cap’ as if he were successful damages or compensation would be down to the court.
You are correct in your analysis of his employment situation. Most employee contracts and associated staff handbooks contain clauses pertaining to employee behaviour when it comes to protecting organisational reputation. It is likely he has breached these which would be gross misconduct. He associated himself with his employer in a public forum he used to make these remarks.
Although one has to ask what
What a scary Orwellian nightmare world we are living in where someone can’t express his views if they are contrary to the opinion of their employer! Next stop – fascism and totalitarianism. Why are our skins so thin that we can’t let someone else disagree with us?
Our ‘skins’ have been whipped red-raw off by all the abuse we’ve had to endure for centruries!
Carl, that’s a huge jump. From disciplinary action for homophobic views, to a fascist totalitarian Orwellian state. How dramatic. You ask, why are our skins so thin? Do you think a black guy would sit around and let someone be racist? No, of course they wouldn’t. It’s not about disagreeing. It’s about equality.
We’ve been living in that world for many many many years. Every contract of employment I have signed contains clauses which say that it is a breach of my contract to bring my employer into disrepute. They have also had very strict equal opportunities clauses. This is not something new. If I had to deal with Trafford Housing Trust I would doubt whether or not they would treat me with respect and fairness if Mr Adams had remained in place. THT have to ensure that their reputation remains in tact.
I have also always been advised never to write any personal opinions down ever because they could very easily come back to haunt me. Facebook and Twitter seem to have removed people’s common sense which I think is much more worrying.
Spot on Carl!
I know you try to be tolerant and accepting, but allying yourself with the sort of views Carl is expressing is making you seem bigoted
Stu: I don’t know Carl so don’t have an opinion whether he is bigoted etc. What I do know is he has raised a fear that many Christians have but are sometimes afraid to say so because of the reaction, such as sometimes seen in these forums. The PN article and Christian Institute reporting of the matter, even between them don’t tell the whole story, which makes it difficult for either of us to express a definitive view.
What it looks like to me is that it is ok to express (imo) erroeous views but not ok to speak the truth. Having read “1984″, that seems in essence what Orwell’s book was about. That is not bigotry and if I ever express bigotry I respect you enough to at least consider the possibility should you point it out.
Its true that neither of us, nor indeed many (if any) of the contributors to this forum know the whole truth …
I don’t need to know a person to understand if the message they convey can be perceived as bigoted …
I can see some facts in the reporting on PN (and elsewhere) …
An employee made a comment on facebook that was offensive to one of his colleagues, who then made a complaint. The facebook profile can be seen to give mention to his employer. The employer has a duty to undertake an investigation into allegations against staff members in the interests of natural justice. The employer found that the employee was in breach of codes of conduct or similar and may have brought the organisation into disrepute.
Those are facts
The disputed issue is whether he should have made the comments on media which identified his employer.
He should have checked his contract of employment and employers policies – and it is his duty to be aware of these.
He may make a …
… claim (with the Christian Institute) about breach of his human rights … seems that Christians seem to forget about the human rights of those who were offended eg this mans colleague, the senior officers of his employer, the clients of the organisation etc – all of whom given the publicity (created by a media storm initiated by the Christian Institute) are aware of the comments and cast disrepute on the individual employee and cause the trust to be talked about in a negative light.
Stu: Actually I agree with the first of your two reply posts and congratulate you on the logical presentation. What we don’t know is the exact terms of contract and no doubt other relevant details. This will come out in due course I am sure. As an employee, I would want to recognise the need to honour my side of contract (and the same should go for the employer of course).
It might sound naive but a lot of people who use Facebook include their employment details (or am I wrong). And providing what a person adds does not contravene his contract, is not done in a “hateful” manner and is not duplicitious (e.g. conveying the impression he speaks for others when he does not) then I don’t see a problem.
As we have discussed, people can easily take offence of what one says. I can assure you there are many instances (usually unreported) of Christians taking offence at things said that attack their faith or are peddling in lies. I am therefore less convinces of the second of your two posts.
I remain baffled how his views on gay marriage and the church should affect his judgement in his position with the Trust, I would guess that the issue of sexuality is one that does not often arises and when it does gets dealt with by the Trust’s Equal Opportunities policies with little fuss.
I suggest you read the press release from Trafford Housing Trust which is included in a post below
It makes it perfectly clear that terms and conditions were contravened.
Thanks Stu. Yes, I did read the press release and note the Trust’s claim that Mr Smith broke its code of conduct. Until I see that code it is difficult to come to a view whether he did or didn’t. I will concede also he was probably unwise to associate himself with his employer.
I remain uncomfortable with the heavy handed approach the Trust adopted (even if he had broken that code) and the implication that in jobs that are barely related to an issue one has views on that a person is prevented from expressing his views. I am still not clear to what extent he made it clear that he was speaking as a private individual rather than as a Trust officer.
Well, to be fair, if he had read the bulletin about the updated code of conduct and did not want to be be found in breach of it then he should not have disclosed his employment on the website
He was advised of the conduct his employer found acceptable, he breached the code of conduct, someone complained about his comments, an investigation occurred, the trust decided not to comment on his opinions, but did find him in breach of its code of conduct.
He made the error. The error was breaching the code of conduct he is subject to. In some organisations breach of the code of conduct is viewed as gross misconduct – so the outcome is relatively lenient.
Carl: I couldn’t agree with you more. We should vigorously challenge his point of view instead of using the cowardly route of silence through punishment.
Start working for an equal opportunities employer and start telling people your anti-gay, anti-black, anti-semitic opinions and see how long you keep your job Carl.
It’s not about thought police, it’s about spitting in the face of your employer, co-workers, and the people you serve.
Besides, your crap about thought police don’t stand to reason when the guy got demoted for leaving WRITTEN EVIDENCE of his stance.
A thought is something in your head, not posted on FB!
Try being part of an evangelical organisation in America and expressing a pro gay view. You are rapidly expelled. Or a conservative judge in Iowa who has found in favour of equality. Likewise the religious lobby pay megabucks to have you expelled. Let’s be realistic about who the bullies really are shall we?
Advice = read the facts you’ll se it had nothing to do with this but his repeated breaking of his emploer code.
I wonder what he thinks of non-religious straight couples who have a church wedding? Many of them do. I remember a cousin of mine back in the 60s who was never christened but wanted a church wedding even though she told the Anglican priest she would not be attending services regularly or had any intention of being christened.
He’s right though, why would non-religious people want a religious marriage? Makes no sense. Some do though.
For the pretty photographs?
lol… baptism photos too, ofc…
Bigotry, in any form is hardly a “mild’ thing-it kills people, and destroys many lives.
Well well well… You friggin Bigoted Man… Mr Smith your actions and beliefs now make better sense and understanding to me. As our previous housing manager you appeared to be non supportive of my needs as a gay man living in a predominately heterosexual area. I am pleased that this has happened, i hope that you get booted out, and I will endeavour to support or assist THT if they need information concerning your conduct when you were employed by them.
Out of interest, what did he do in your case?
And now he has dragged his employer into even more ill repute as it has been recognised by Mr. Wilson that his bigotry was affecting his duties.
These goons always get caught out.
Must be a sign of low intelligence.
If there is evidence of his inappropriate views affecting the performance of his duties then Trafford Housing Trust should instigate a further investigation and consider further disciplinary action – it would be further reputational damage to his employer, with actual damage to the relationship between the organisation and one of its clients (if proven)
This is a dangerous development in a society that is supposed to value freedom of expression. His duty in the workplace is to treat his colleagues and clients fairly and professionally. That is the criteria on which his emplyers should judge him. They do not own him or his private life. Expressing his personal beliefs which are hardly outrageous and actually reflect current mainstream policy in all religions is none of his employers business. We should all protect and cherish our right to a private life outside the workplace and it is dangerous to support this intolerant attack on this man’s liberty.
Can’t you read.
He referred to his employer in his personal posts.
That is why the are not happy.
He didn’t “refer” to them. They are just part of his Facebook profile, along with his town, school and college.
Which wasnt authorised by his employer …
Which his code of conduct said should be …
His failure …
Wrong. When an individual makes intemperant , intolerant, or offensives comments … or behaves inappropriately … and that is linked to his/her employer in a public forum then the employer have a right to consider bringing the organisation into disrepute … or other matters … in the case of public agencies, there is a specific duty to ensure they and their employees act appropriately with regards equality issues
If this gentleman did not want to risk censure or disciplinary action by his employer then he should not have stated his views in a public forum where he is linked to his employer …
As a former police officer and currently as a paramedic it would be wholly and utterly inappropriate to discuss any philosophical or religious or political views that I may have either directly with the public or on a forum which identifies me as being employed in the NHS …
Freedoms carry with them responsibilities in terms of how they are exercised – this gentleman clearly fails …
… to understand the boundaries of appropriateness, professionalism and transparency. If he can not make wise judgements in this regard, how can he be expected to make socially appropriate decisions regarding housing?
“Freedoms carry with them responsibilities in terms of how they are exercised.”
Good news! Too digress… Denmark will become the 11th country legalise same-sex marriage in 2012. Well done, Denmark! Meanwhile, we’ll take another 3 years before we see anything in the UK. Why do these damned consultations take so long?
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – unless someone is inciting violence or actively and directly verbally attacking an individual they should be allowed to hold whatever opinions they choose – so long as they do not allow them to affect the way in which they work.
How can you get this far down this comments page and not realised yet that he was not disciplined for his personal views. He was disciplined for publishing them alongside his employer’s name, bringing his employer into disrepute. It’s not about defending rights to free speech, it’s about breaching a contract for employment.
I’ve got this far down too, and from the detail given, this decision is nuts.
JA: He did not state that his personal views were also his employer’s policy. He has not breached any contract of employment or brought his employer into disrepute. If he mentioned his address would you then argue that he had brought everyone on his street into disrepute just by mentioning their street by name? This is just a pathetic technical excuse to shut down an unpopular view rather than having the curage of our convictions to argue against him.
I suppose you have had sight of the individuals contract of employment and terms and conditions of employment and all organisational policies on social media etc …
Thought not …
Don’t need to see his particular contract, Stu. It’s a faily standard clause. And if it wasn’t in his contract, there’s no way his employer would have acted as they did. It’s obvious. Do you really think they’d rely on a condition he hadn’t agreed to? That’d be nuts.
I agree with you, I was disagreeing with IT
However, since the comments IT has made, the employers press release has been shared which demonstrates their view of his breach of the code of conduct (which I suspected).
He does not have to state wether or not they are the views of the employer the fact that he didn’t state that they weren’t is the problem.
Good for Trafford, the world needs more of this treatment towards employees using social media as a voice for bigotry.
I can not see how this can be held up by any court. There is no reference to the employer in the statement or any reference to the trusts policies. It brings no damage to the trust in any way. The trust have no right to govern a persons opinions or religious views. The most they could have asked from him was that he remove any reference to the trust as his employer on his FB account, if he wishes to make comments such as this. If the trust are not listed as his employer on his FB account, then they should have no grounds for making any request. This should be easily supported under employment law, by an industrial tribunal. I will remember Adrian in my prayers.
i fear you may be missing the point, he DID list the trust as his employer and as such linked his opinions with that of the trust, being they are a public body this is contray to the public sector equality duty that all public sector workers are bound by, as i pointed out before although he is entirely entitled to his opinion regardles of what they may be, by listing his employer he potentialy brings it into disrepute
It carries massive reputational damage if the trust did not take action – imagine if PN had been reporting that the housing trust had failed to act on reported homophobia … imagine also the image this portrays to gay clients of the trust about the standards the trust expects of its employess (if they do not fear making inappropriate remarks which are linked to their employer, then maybe the employer tolerates and encourages a culture where such views could pervade …).
“I will remember Adrian in my prayers.”
Which is as useful as a band aid on a bullet wound, but hey, knock yourself out if you think talking to yourself will do much good.
Freedom and thought and speech are one thing. Identifying your boss with those opinions are a different matter. What if he had said instead “I urge you not to vote Conservative next time”?
The christian institute and that Mike Judge are no better than a terrorist group.
All they do is stir up anti-gay hate and prejudice.
I hope this guy gets sacked for all the attention he bought on the housing trust for standing up for equality.
‘..and will claim his human rights have been breached.’
‘An equality too far’ perhaps ?
It is nonsense to claim that simply by mentioning where he works he is therefore associating the housing trust with his own personal opinions and that justifies them disciplining him. He is just stating as part of his profile information about himself. It demonstrates a lack of intelligence and common sense to be unable to seperate the individual from the body he works for.
I have a £2.50 job ($ux!) and even I’ve signed a declaration for social media whereby I can’t express any opinions that would bring my employer into disrepute. This man has.
That’s not the point. He did something that his contract of employment specifically says he should not do, and he agreed not to do it when he signed it.
Contracts are not about what’s fair (and that’s subjective anyway), they’re about what’s agreed. If you don’t agree, then don’t sign.
I am at a loss as to why this man was disciplined for saying what he did. A Pastor colleague in my workplace broadcasts much stronger statements about gays, with impunity, and I work in the public sector.
Does he identify his employer in the process?
If he identifies his employer and you are a colleague then I suggest you report him and cite this case as an example of good practice in handling the matter …
Stu why are you such a goody goody, I doubt that comes with being a copper, you sould a right mummys boy
That’s not fair.
Stu ain’t perfect, but if you listened to his comments and gave them some thought, you would surely learn something about the real world.
It would be boring if we were all the same, or all perfect … lol
Glad you appreciate some of the thought I put into some of these matters, as I appreciate some of yours!
I am an ex cop – so lets get the facts correct to start with …
As for goody goody …. well not entirely, but thats for me to know and others to work out …
However, what I do have is a passion about integrity, honour and justice … If you don’t, thats your concern – but it speaks volumes for your morality if that is the case
if you have a work colleague who does this then you should report him to your HR section. they have a legal obligation to stop this sort of behaviour. its just not acceptable (or legal) any more.
Why is it them bibble-bashers (sic) go on about freedom of thought and speech…? Isn’t it part of their membership to the god-club to leave their brains at the door?
What is it they don’t understand about this guy’s demotion? Don’t waste your time telling and re-telling the reasons though… god will email an update soon enough!
They don’t like being cast down for their outdated thinking, do they?!
Well, not read any but the first comments, but it seems he did not get the part that performing same sex marriages would not be imposed on churches.
For the rest, he seemed to have commented to think it’fine for the state to offer same-sex marriages, but not the church.
I do think I’m quite straight forward in not tolerating intolerance, and on what I have read it seems to me he did give an opinion which he is allowed to have, which means his punishment is totally over the top!
If my idea in this is correct, I would have no 2nd thoughts in defending his right to think full equal marriage to not belong in his church….
I would argue his idea is wrong, but it is his right to have an opinion. Seems to me he does not argue against equality under the law..
Pay attention Angela, dear. It’s not about what he thinks, it’s about breach of contract. I happen to disagree strongly with what he thinks, but if I say so on Facebook and mention my employer in the process, or within my profile, then I should get the sack too.
Sorry, John, but the rights of the employer her end with the private life of someone voicing an opinion, who I think is wrong, but can not be called disrespectful.
I guess you would support people having their opinions gagged by their employer, even if that is a rightful opinion?
You think it would be OK for someone to be sacked for being open about not being religious while working for a religious institution in a non religious role?
No, he’s hired for a job and has to do that job within the reasonable expectation the employer can have.
He fully has the right to be of the opinion that same-sex marriage does not belong in his church!
Even though I think the church should be open to this and think that not being acceptable of same-sex marriages is against what I would think is Jesus opinion and attitude when reading their scriptures.
BTW, the ‘christian intitute’ I think is a bunch of a****.
Like Ladale I fully agree she should be sacked on the spot for refusing to do the ….. 2
Angela, his rights to express his personal opinion are only affected because by his own stupidity in expressing them in a forum in which he had already identified he makes a link between his views and the undertaking for which he works.
Please don’t assume I would want to gag him or anyone else. I do belive in free speech and I’ve preserved my own right to express my personal views by not mentioning my employer in doing so. If he also wanted to preserve the same right the he had two choices – not to mention his employer, or not to be employed by them if he didn’t like their terms and condition.
As for me, I was employed by a company which sought to restrict my personal time activity (I wanted to play piano in a bar and they objected – I’d signed a contract agreeing that they could). So instead of breaking the contract, I terminated it. I now have my own law firm and charge them twice what they paid me when they employed me. And some nights, I play piano in a bar!
… identified his employer….
blooming iPad keyboard!
fully legal work she was hired to do, and had agreed to do. Besides that, Ladale obviously lied when she promised to uphold the law…..
I do think his rights – to have an opinion – were breached, but it is not his human rights breached. That is until now every time the CI idiots go to court when some religious wacknut did breach someone else’s human rights…
I can give you many examples of conduct outside of work which has led to dismissal of employees in the NHS, police, and other public service organisations due to bringing the service or organisation into disrepute.
In this case the gentlemans thoughts may have been something we profoundly disagreed with, but he is entitled to those thoughts and to discuss them in a public arena if he wishes to do so (provided he isn’t harassing etc etc). However, if he then exercises his right to freedom of speech and he is identified as being an employee when making such a declaration then he may well be bringing that employer into disrepute and action against him may be justified. Imagine a police officer (in uniform) driving home off duty and stops to refuel, makes some comment that is perceived as homophobic – should the victim be entitled to make a complaint to the police service about the officers conduct, both as a criminal and disciplinary matter – of course …
@Stu this is a really good answer! I was in 2 minds on this subject and just couldn’t come to a good enough reason as to why this is not just someone innocently expressing their opinion. This has helped me to finally see just why he was wrong to do what he did and why the punishment is justified. The analogy about an off-duty police officer is a good, and appropriate, example.
From the story I understand the man did state his employer on his FB profile, which does not imply that he is representing his employer while using his FB. That I do think your employer simply should not be listed on FB is another discussion.
So, conclusion is that he did make a perfectly legal public statement in his own private time.
If he would have done this statement representing his employer, then disciplinary action by his employer would be fully justified.
The time that we were ‘owned’ by our employers is history now, and an employer simply does not have the right to ‘own’ your opinion and dictate it. Only when someone makes a statement which is illegal under the law, then action by the employer can be justified depending in how much the employer is deemed to be harmed. A more appropriate action on illegal remarks would be a complaint with the justice system.
When someone is in uniform, even though off duty, you are visibly recognisable and it can not simply be ….. 2
In my example, the police officer would probably not be wearing a tie, or carrying a radio and would be in their own car, may even have their own personal jacket over their uniform – but they still made a homophobic comment and would still be justified in being dealt with by the police as the police and as an employer. It would probably be obvious from his dress that he wasnt on duty and therefore not representing his employer …
In the facebook example in this story, whilst it may have been seen that he was talking personally – the fact he made comments and there was a link to his employer is enough to bring that employer into disrepute. He is employed by the trust, he has declared that employment on facebook, he said something someone found offensive, a complaint was made and thus an disciplinary investigation is appropriate as someone perceived that the employers reputation was harmed.
distinguished by the public that someone is not representing the employer behind the uniform, and as such the person can be held to certain standards.
I would like to know what rule this man broke and if he had broken any rule, whether it is legally enforceable.
He was offering an opinion which many Christians would agree with. If people are offended then too bad – there was no malice intended and he felt (and I agree) that opinion was needed as a corrective to the views being put forward that I happen to find offensive.
It was clearly a personal opinion and does not reflect on the good name of the trust, which in my view is tarnished anyway. How peverse that the Trust should spend time and energy unjustly bringing distress on a good man, when there are so many more worthwhile things it could be doing.
Lets leave to one side the aspect of whether we agree with the content of what he said … I don’t, you do and we know that before we exchange views on this … We also know that some people will be offended by what he says … I am not personally, I disagree with him profoundly and would happily debate with him for hours (until I wore him down enough *joke*).
The issue is that he made a comment that someone found offensive (otherwise there would not have been a complaint) that propagated a view that ensured lack of equality for LGBT people. These are views which the organisation would not condone (they are a public body who have a responsibility under the Equality Act). He was identifiable as an employee of the organisation in the media he chose to make his comments. It could be seen that this was then the view of the organisation. He therefore brought the organisation into either actual or potential disrepute.
Stu: I would like to know exactly the circumstances he became identified with his employer. I would have thought that folk using social media often do include info about their employment in their personal profile but by no stretch of the imagination should this be seen as then having to endorse the views of that organisation or then having to avoid saying things the hierarchy in that organisation might disapprove of – besides which it is none of their business.
There is nothing this man has done that has contravened the Equality Act or can be seen as weakening his position in that organisation. I feel what the employers have done to be very worrying and I hope that if he were to bring a case against the employer he will be vindicated. We will disagree, I am sure, but imo organisation is brought into disrepute because of the actions of the employer.
I believe this further elaboration reflects my views also:
Given that there are rumours (and I accept they may be simply this_ that the man has operated inappropriately in work (possibly due to his arguably homophobic views) this may suggest that this was part of a catalogue of issues …
Whether it was or not, however I would disagree that this did not have implications for the employer with regards equality act. The equality act talks about ensuring equal access to services – I suspect some gay people, if they were aware of this man and of these comments may feel that they were not afforded equal access to services by him.
I can not see how you can not understand that these comments would damage the reputation of his employer.
Stu: I agree some folk may have concerns given Mr. Smith’s views just as I might have concerns over the perniscuous PCness of his employers. None of that is really relevant. What is relevant is whether this man is doing his job, including ensuring equal access to the services that the Trust are offering. If he is then there is no way he should have been penalised in the way he has.
You might be surprised to know that I am a board member of the Equalities Board of our Local Strategic Partnership, part of which role is is to help ensure employers do carry out their public duty regarding the Equality Act. You know many of my views by now and I am pretty sure that there will be some folk who may be concerned because of this. But always I try to act with integrity and fairness to all the groups identified by the Act as well as my particular passion regarding the socially disadvantaged.
It doesnt surprise me that you side on a local strategic partnership. I also think you probably will exercise your judgements individually, and corporately as a board with an even hand and reflect on the perceptions of various sides.
None of us know the full story on this case. The Christian Institute will be spinning it to fit their rhetoric. The Housing Trust will be spinning it to minimise any issues they face from ET or other legal remedy this gentleman may seek. All of us who look at the facts will have our own prejudices and interpretations of what may or may not have occurred.
Ultimately, if he has signed an agreement about acceptable behaviour on social media platforms (which may have been added during work time????) with his employer then he is in clear breach of this, judging by the decision the employer made.
If there is no such agreement then I would still take the view that he has brought his employer into disrepute. Regardless of his ability to …
… perform his duties at work, he has a responsibility to not undermine his employer or cause it to be maligned whether he is at work or not.
Regardless of whether you agree with his comments, someone perceived them as wrong (a colleague) and complained to the organisation, who made a judgement and decided he had brought the organisation into disrepute. Thats a subjective viewpoint, but clearly both the organisation felt this as did the colleague who complained.
You understand the principles of hate crime (now I am not suggesting he commited a crime) but the principles of if some perceives it as hate inspired (be that religious, race, homophobic or whatever) then it such be treated with the seriousness of hare related matters. Such an approach may have relevance in a case of this nature.
You have failed to understand although your question has been answered time and time again.
All I can say is… take the time to re-read this thread.
“He was offering an opinion which many Christians would agree with”
This just means many “christian’s” are uneducated bigots, nothing more.
YAY GREAT MOVE BY THE TRUST.
Sad the Christians no longer practice what their good book says, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di04_vKfqNw
Who says it’s a “good” book?
Personally I think it s a dangerous tome.
Not as dangerous as restrictions on freedom of speech etc.
This is absolutely outrageous and exactly the sort of thing that allows genuine homophobes (which this man isn’t necessarily) to play the victim.
Had he said he wouldn’t serve gay people then he would be failing in his job and should be demoted but what has happened here is he is being persecuted for nothing more than holding an opinion, something, fortunately, one can do in this country.
Furthermore I 80% agree with him. I’m gay and think the state has a duty to offer me the same services i.e. marriage as it does straight people. I do not, however, expect religious bodies to do the same, they should have the option to, but if you don’t subscribe to their beliefs, why should, or indeed would you want, to be eligible for membership in their congregation?
I do not know the whys wherefores of this case – no-one here does. However I would just say that if his case was strong I don’t think he would have gone public and tried as he now has to become a kind of martyr. That suggests to me that he has received advice that he does not have a strong case because if there is a case ongoing one should not speak about it to the media (that is the duty of confidence one has to one’s employer and to avoid bringing them into direpute which he now has done). Equally if you go to a sollicitor they will give very strong advice against going to the media unless you actually want to make yourself a cause celebre, which may be he does. Before going to an Employment Tribunal one has the chance for mediation and I can only think that this high level provocation from the employee (going before the media) is designed to make any mediation impossible. Anyway it will be an interesting test case.
Quite disappointed, but not surprised, to see the BBC describe the Christian Institute as “a national charity that defends the religious liberty of Christians.”
see also -
actually I am quite pleased. I would like to think it is also a think tank that tries to examine the complex issues of the day from a biblical perspective.
Who cares about a biblical perspective.
Here’s a modern day complex 21st century problem.
Lets look to a 2000 year old text written by desert dwelling peasants for a perspective.
for you it is a 2000 year old text with questionable relevance for us today.
for me it is God’s word and utterly relevant. a correct exposition and application is therefore of paramount importance.
There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.
Its laughable that the Christian Insititute are trying a freedom of speech campaign …
PN encourages debate including from those profoundly disagreeing with the views expressed here … Hence, some vigorous debates with yourself and others on these forums …
Strangely, when anyone enters debate on the Christian Institute facebook site that disagrees with comments made, rather than encourage freedom of speech – they are blocked (or on occasion suffer horrendous risible and offensive abuse).
This shows that the Christian Institutes position on freedom of speech is full of hypocracy and lacks any real integrity.
Stu: I can see your bemusement. Bear in mind I make no claim to be a spokesman or an apologist for the Christian Institute. In a world of complexities and vast arrays of knowledge even a genius like me finds it hard to keep up. That is why I rely on others to do some of the analytical thinking for me. Because I believe there are usually many perspectives to most issues, I try to seek these out. I come to Pink News for a LBGT perpsective and Christian Institute for a Christian one (and others of course). Imho the pronouncements offered by the Christian Institute are frequently sound.
However, I do concede this … Pink News to their credit allow people to contribute opinions even when challenging those of the majority and I for one have reason to be grateful. The same courtesy is not, from what I understand, afforded by Christian Institute. I am inclined to think this is regretable!
I know you do not purport to be a spokesman for the Christian Institute (you might be lynched even more on PN if you were!) lol
I am pleased you understand why I find it complete hypocracy in the Christian Institute seeking to bring forth legal action on the grounds of freedom of speech, when they themselves actively seek to censor free speech. This lack of integrity undermines any semblance of credibility they may have in their arguments on moral grounds when they choose to have one rule for Christians and another rule for others …
i could be wrong but i think they’re just saying thats how they describe themselves
Then the BBC should have used quote marks.
It certainly is how the CI describe themselves on their website, but dave is correct and the BBC article should have made it clear that was the description the CI have of themselves
people have been sacked for “gross misconduct” for comments posted on facebook he should think himself lucky that he only got demoted and not sacked.
No-one should be sacked for having an opinion.
I do not agree with Adrian Smith’s comments about gay marriage but while his job is now on the line, if he had been a Muslim no action would have been taken. Even as a non-Christian my rights are being eroded in favour of Muslims such as my right to enjoy Christmas, New Year and Easter which are also secular and Pagan festivals. If we didn’t have free speech and freedom of expression we would still be hiding in the closet for fear of arrest.
A difficult one to call. There seems to be no evidence that this guy’s opinions would lead him to behave in a discriminatory way in his job, but he was irresponsible to identify his employer on Facebook without stating clearly that his views didn’t represent theirs. Perhaps they have reacted too harshly, and should simply have given him a dire warning re future conduct plus a demand that he give an amended message + apology on Facebook.
Demoting the man for having an opinion, however contentious, was absolutely wrong. He did not state or even imply that his views were the official policy of the employer he worked for. Trafford Housing Trust acted like a bunch of second rate, McCarthyite witch hunters who only allow freedom of speech when it accords with their view of things. By all means challenge people’s views but don’t use the sledge hammer to crack a nut. We don’t want thought crime or some petty dictatorial mind set to ruin free speech. George Orwell must be turning in his grave at this.
I have had to state on my facebook page that all the views stated are the views of me and not company held views, and I don’t even work in the public sector which has much stricter rules.
It’s usual company policy and I bet its in all of your contracts.
It is part of my organisations policy …
It is part of my terms and conditions to apply by organisational policies and to keep myself up to date with changes …
I have yesterday made sure that a disclaimer is on my facebook profile – only wise …
http://www.traffordhousingtrust.co.uk/your-trust/news/trust%27s-comment-on-mail-on-sunday-article for there press release.
Thank you John, the statement from the Trafford Housing Trust has clarified the situation. It is quite clear that Adrian Smith was knowingly in breach of the code of conduct issued by his employers.
It is a clear breach of the employers code of conduct …
He could have been dismissed for gross misconduct
I was concerned about this case, but having read John’s link it’s clear it has nothing to do with personal beliefs but a breach of the code of conduct. We are once again being misled by the religious fanatics.
“At the end of 2010, we updated our Code of Conduct for Employees and provided it to all staff. This version of the Code clearly set out what use employees can make of social networking sites such as Facebook.
Some three months after this new code was issued, Mr Smith, without our authority or knowledge and on a Facebook page that identified him as a manager at Trafford Housing Trust, made comments that were found, by a full disciplinary investigation in which he had Trade Union representation, to be in breach of the company’s code of conduct and other policies.
Mr Smith was disciplined for his breach of company policy. The Trust made no comment about any personal beliefs that he holds. “
While this case turns out to have nothing to do with personal opinions, the religious lobby are not coming to court with clean hands. Try being part of an evangelical organisation in America and expressing a pro gay view. You are rapidly expelled. Or a conservative judge in Iowa who has found in favour of equality. Likewise the religious lobby pay megabucks to have you expelled. Let’s be realistic about who the bullies really are shall we?
There is a very well funded campaign by the religious rightwing to suppress pro gay views and evidence which exposes their myths, and to punish those judges and politicians that disagree with them. It is a particularly nasty campaign of vilification and abuse of legal process, that does not in my view seem particularly Christ-like.
It’s strange that som of the Christian lobby like to reverse the facts and the play martyr.
No one is planning to force churches to marry gays. No one has even suggested it. Yet those that want to ban all churches from doing so even if they want to, somehow turn it around so that they can appear to be the injured party and accuse the other side of being illiberal. Amazing.
He can hold whatever opinion he wants, and shouldn’t be chastised for it. However, his employer does have the right to sack or otherwise punish him for misrepresenting the business. The punishment seems very excessive and reactionary, but no one was technically in the wrong.
As much as I deplore Christians against gay marriage, this guy said his comment on Facebook outside of work’s time and I don’t think it’s fair that he lost nearly half his salary for an opinion in a free country.
This man wasn’t very clever in having his employer listed on his Facebook page. Having said that, from what I’ve read, this was a closed Facebook page and he made these comments to a colleague at the Trust, who obviously would’ve known who he was anyway. The irony is that he’s actually misunderstood the proposed law. Churches and other places of worship that do not wish to carry out civil partnerships will not be forced to do so, it’s only those who DO, so he’s tilting at windmills and getting wound up other something that isn’t even happening. What I think is a bit off is that instead of pointing out how his comments could’ve been misinterpreted, his so called friend and colleague ran like a little child back to to the boss. I think the company policy is a bit of a smokescreen as well, because if he’d said he supported gay marriage in church whether other Christians liked it or not, I very much doubt he’d be looking at a 40% pay cut. I notice the Trust didn’t seem to mind being associated with his previous charity work in Africa, so there seems to be a bit of picking and choosing going on here.
Cor blimey I have gathered 28 minuses for defending freedom of speech against totalitarian attempts to stifle it on the grounds that this idiot is bringing his employers into disrepute! All they had to do was dis-associate themselves from what he said. Trafford’s response was cowardly because they knew there would be a backlash from the usual suspects. Really, what is the difference logically between getting demoted for disagreeing with a government (as happened in communist countries) and this? So we find his views offensive – but I don’t connect that with his employer, and I’m a big boy and can cope with this kind of bigoted crap. Freedom to express an opinion was defended to the death in this country; now we are saying this freedom should not be extended to those whose religious convictions we find reprehensible?
They have a duty to protect their employees who were offended, and need to be seen to take a robust stance on breaches of their code of conduct.
Do you know this mans prior disciplinary record? Who’s to say that he has not already been admonished for other breaches in the past, and were it not for his previous misdemeanours may have been subject to a public message disassociating the trust from the comments and a verbal or written warning ….
That said, if the punishment is in line with prior decisions by this trust where they have set a precedent then that is also a justifiable stance by the organisation
But with respect Stu, if this man had been supporting gay marriage in church, and the colleagues had been Christian would anybody be defending the Trust for doing the same? Would people have been bothered about protecting Christian employees who may have been offended? How do you think it would play? “Man demoted for supporting gay marriage, due to complaints made by Christian colleague”. People would be rightly outraged and the Trust and snitching colleagues would be roundly condemned. We can’t have a hierarchy where only certain people are allowed to have free speech, and the offence caused only to certain groups is taken into consideration. Equality isn’t a zero sum game where in order to protect the rights of one group, those of another are completely trampled on. The company policy excuse is a bit of a joke because he was talking to a work colleague, who by virtue of being a work colleague would’ve known EXACTLY who he worked for. There was no possibility of them suddenly thinking their OWN employer was homophobic, or otherwise confusing his views with that of the Trust. Sledgehammer and nut come to mind here.
With respect ally, if the man had made comments as you suggest and identified his employer on facebook then he would still be in breach of the code of conduct and I hope the employer would take similar action if it came to their attention. As it happens, that is not how his breach of conduct came to be known, so hypothetical speculation does not help.
For me this is less about the content of his comments (although I find them reprehensible) and more about an employer seeking to exercise its duty of care to all its employees equally and maintain its own code of conduct and integrity.
Homosexual activist Peter Tatchell has said Trafford Housing Trust was being “excessive and disproportionate” in demoting a Christian employee who posted comments about civil partnerships on Facebook.
I think Peter Tatchell is out of touch and wrong on this issue – it has nothing to do with the content of the managers comments and all to do with his conduct
So what Matthew, do you think Peter speaks for us all? I suppose I’m not surprised you think that given your own though are confined to, and dictated by, religious dogma. Not all of us are so limited.
Good job he’s entitled to HIS opinion then isn’t it. He speaks for himself after all or are you that shallow… oh thats right… you are ain’t ya.
How very sad.
Good for Peter Tatchell saying that the employer’s response was disproportionate. The drive for equality is not served by hysterical over-reaction every time someone says something offensive. I’m old enough to remember the fatwa against Salman Rushdie who offended Muslim sensibilities. The principles are the same. We can’t pick and choose when it comes to freedom of speech. Everyone has the right to religious or political views and the right to offend others because of those views – that’s the price for a civilised democratic society. The only limit should be whether it incites hatred or violence.
You know what would have been nice… that the media reported the fact rather than this pile of crap.
I don’t agree with the man, but offensive? He belongs to a group of deluded people who believe in an invisible superman, who allowed men to kill him for sins our ancestors have commited. I he doesn’t want his church to marry gays, so what? I wouldn’t like to get married by a bunch of people who think I’m bound for hell for whatever reason.
It’s a bit over the top, I think.
Totally agreed. Censoring people like this is the thin end of the wedge.
i assume that this was the guys in question’s first naughty-naughty in the work-place, if so then, yes he should have been warned before he was demoted. if however, he had already had warnings for conduct (not necessarily LGBT related) then it was -precisely right that he be demoted. Has anybody bothered to check if this was his first offence?
Thats my bone of contention … (or one of them) … was it his first offence, was there some precedent within the trust relating to similar issues …
We dont know – so the answer is the trust may have been proportionate in their actions. They certainly were entitled to uphold their code of conduct.
ship him out to the us they are all brainwashed buggers over there. if he had been employed by me i would of sacked him on the spot. what goes around comes around homophobe