There’s always an ulterior motive.
Personally, I would tell Trafford to stick their sh|tty job and take them to a tribunal.
This has nothing to do with homophobia and everything to do with arse-crawling.
Even as a bisexual (though closer to gay than str8) male, I see the actions of the organization to be extremely excessive.
Nobody “advertises” where they work. It is simply one of the questions asked of you on Facebook in order to keep in contact with others, much like your town, school or college.
Some people choose (for varied reasons – many very sensible) not to disclose their employer on facebook
I still feel that the employer discovered a breach of code of conduct, and that we are not aware of Mr Smiths prior disciplinary record or the precedent the housing trust have set as penalty for breach of code of conduct etc – so speculation as to whether this was disproportionate or not is uninformed.
Yes, and some people keep it on there so they can keep in contact with current or previous employees. Just because you work for a company does not mean you necessarily endorse them or their services/products. Neither does it state that your opinions are those of your employer. People need to earn a living, that’s all. What they do in their own free time has damn all to do with their job as long as it does not directly conflict with it.
It’s much the same as the copper who was reprimanded for being a member of the BNP. It’s none of their damn business!
Firstly, the police officer. It is a specific discipline offence in the police code of conduct and regulations to be a member of any political party. That is due to police involvement of policing elections so that there is fairness and transparency. Every officer is told the full set of regulations on day one of training school. The police officer who joined the BNP should have known better, There is nothing to stop the officer supporting or agreeing with policies regarding any political party but being a member is strictly prohibited and you are made aware of this from the outset of being a police officer (and in the application pack if memory serves me correctly).
Secondly, there are indeed reasons people may disclose their employer on facebook. Indeed any comment they make on facebook may well not have any relevance to the official stance of their employer. Nonetheless, Mr Smiths code of conduct prohibited him from disclosing his employer without consent ….
… – he had no such consent from the housing trust. An employer must be seen to uphold its code of conduct, otherwise it is a toothless tool and some employees would take advantage of the precedent of the code of conduct not being enforced if they were found to be in breach in the future.
Nobody would of know of any of this if they had not acted in hast. Its not like the Albert Kennedy Trust are monitoring the housing associations employees facebook pages.
They over reacted and caused a media storm, now they are trying to lay part of the blame at the Albert Kennedy Trusts door.
I do wonder if those of you who are unaware of Mr Smiths disciplinary record and precedent within the housing trust etc etc and who feel that despite not having that information available feel that the housing trust should have just pretended that a breach of code of conduct had just not happened? What message would that send out to other staff (and Mr Smith) regarding the value the housing trust place on their code of conduct? If they had decided not to act, it is also possible that the colleague who made a complaint about Mr Smith may have felt unsupported by their employer and adverse publicity resulted from failing to act. The housing trust had to stand by its code of conduct and be seen to protect both its reputation and support staff who felt they had a grievance.
The full facts of this employee;s career history are obviously unknown to the readers of PinkNews but we judge by what we see. What we see is a foolish decision by a Housing trust trying to remain onside with both the Albert Kennedy Trust and also, and I suspect more importantly, the bigots within its faith group. They have stumbled. The lesson is that you should understand the meaning of fair employment practices and so on before making silly decisions.
In which case, Dan you are seeking a trial be media of the housing trust.
You acknowledge that there are facts which the readers of PN will not be aware. Not just the gentlemans career history – but his disciplinary record. If this was the second, third, fourth etc time that Mr Smith had breached the code of conduct then I would regard demotion as lenient. I don’t know that because rightly that information is confidential.
I feel its flagrantly wrong to castigate Trafford Housing Trust in this matter without full knowledge of the facts. It amounts to a kangaroo court from those following the story in the media.
Let us wait and see what happens, and I hope justice is done and seen to be done. If the trust have acted appropriately and proportionately I hope their case is upheld and the costs awarded against Mr Smith and the CI, if they have been heavy handed I hope there is appropriate remedy for Mr Smith.
I would be very surprised if the trust did not get legal advice first.
correction trial by media
I agree with Dan, and I also think you are on the wrong track with this prior record nonsense. For someone who professes your background you should know the dangers involved in inferring that there may be other things in the past. We do not know if there is or not but to keep going on about it as a major part of your argument in support of the trust is a straw man too far.
In fact your response to Dan would seem to suggest that you think there must be something in his past record to justify the punishment we see – if there is not will you retract your support for his demotion ?
I am aware that there are dangers of looking at historical behaviour, however, I am also aware that there are benefits from doing so and that it is common practice and legitimate to do so.
For example, in criminal law (which this is not I concede) when a person has been found guilty, a sentence will not be made without reference to previous convictions, thus one person may get a more lenient sentence than another if one has numerous previous convictions and another few or none.
In the same way in an employment context, someone with no previous disciplinary warnings, or other sanctions may receive a lenient form of penalty eg management advice, whereas someone with repeated warnings over a period may require a harsher sanction.
I personally think that is fair, of course, the decision to be made on sanction should come after any decision as to whether the person has committed the offence, whether that be disciplinary or criminal.
Therefore, prior record is very relevant
The problem here is that you seem to be inferring that there ‘might’ be something in his past to justify the harsh sentence which in some ways lets the trust off the hook if in fact it has just acted too harshly. On the face of it I think they have acted too harshly and it is up to them to justify that level of punishment not for us to speculate why it is harsher than the known circumstances would seem to justify. You are in danger (at least as far as this message board is concerned) of providing cover for the trust.
I am not accusing you of deliberately throwing mud but the effect is the same.
This is a reply to your following reply to me – this stupid message board system seems very arbitrary as to when you can reply directly to a post or not.
In that case I suggest you go back and look at the comments I have written, as I believe I have taken great care to say that no one knows whether he had any previous disciplinary record or not.
At times I have taken great care to say that it is possible that he has been punished disproprtionately., but that without full knowledge of the facts – no one is able to make that judgement.
Great, you are prepared to take at face value what is in the media as telling the whole story – it doesnt. It can not possibly do. With the additional knowledge, your view that he has been treated disproportionately may be proven. Or my option (not belief) that he has been treated appropriately could be proven.
It would be inappropriate for this information to be disclosed in a public arena unless a court ordered that to be the case. So your opinion is uninformed and speculative, and my thoughts are that I just don’t know whether this is disproportionate or not without the full facts – …
… to reach a firm conclusion on one side or the other of the argument is to show bias.
Now, on the facts I know I believe the trust have probably acted appropriately – but I know I do not know the full facts and thus if Mr Smith has been disproportionately treated, I wish him well in having that remedied (something else I have been at pains to say several times).
I do think this is a huge public relations manipulation by the CI, and we should let either arbitration or legal recourse resolve this.
I will await with interest of hearing of the trusts rationale for punishing Mr Smith with a demotion. Their rationale may include aspects of Mr Smiths prior disciplinary record and other factors. If these factors, in their entirety, do not make demotion a reasonable conclusion – then I will wish Mr Smith every luck in obtaining a remedy from his employer. If (whether they be prior disciplinary records or other factors) which justify the penalty imposed, then I will retain my support for the trust – and hope that at least some of those who currently (on incomplete information) believe the trust acted inappropriately withdraw their comments and recognise the appropriate actions of the trust.
Again you keep banging on about his possible poor disciplinary record, for all we know his exemplary past record may have protected him from the sack. It is this bias in your speculation which I am not sure is adding to the discussion in a particularly even handed way.
All we can do is say whether we believe, on the evidence in front of us, the punishment fitted the crime. You seem to, I do not but it is wrong for us to defend our position by choosing one side or the other to speculate as to whether they have a murky past.
I am not castigating the trust – I just think they were overly harsh but they make the rules so from that perspective I would support their right to act in the way they did even though I would have taken a different path – that is not the same as castigating them.
So lets wait and see what the tribunal comes up with instead of injecting strawmen.
I don’t know if you are being deliberately obtuse but I am not suggesting that Mr Smith has any prior disciplinary record, I am saying that is one of a number of reasons why the trusts position may be appropriate.
I am trying to be balanced on this.
I would argue you are being biased by clearly seeking to disbar suggestions why the housing trust may be acting correctly. That is not a manner to ensure effective debate. I am merely putting, a case – if you don’t like that fine …
I however, have repeatedly stated various balanced comments about Mr Smith. If you want to presume I am judging him, jumping to conclusions without facts (which I am earnestly seeking to avoid) then thats your presumption – entirely and totally wrong but nonetheless you are entitled to judge and presume my intention and thoughts on this matter are entirely different to the reality of what I do think etc.
I am certainly not a strawman … I have repeatedly been at odds to logically appraise the facts as they are known and look at issues that are unknown. By looking at what the unknown could be eg a clean disciplinary record, or a some disciplinary record – we can then consider why the situation has occurred and what might have happened.
I may speculate about what has happened but that is no more than people who believe the trust has acted disproportionately are doing due to the lack of full information.
You may not feel you are castigating, but that is my perception of exactly what you are doing – I suspect in a very similar way to which you perceive me to be (to quote you) mud slinging – which could not be further from the truth.
The man’s words on his facebook page were his own opinions. Maybe it wasn’t the best thing to do and advertized where he worked.
Hind sight being was it is, it seems and I did agree with it at the time, they acted in haste.
people have been disciplined and dismissed for making similar comments, the key phrase here is to “bring into disrepute” it is a common reason for disciplinaries at some corporations. You need to be more careful in future and assume everything you post to facebook can be read by absolutely everyone and that includes your boss – if theres a chance they will not like it don’t post it. simples.Tribunals have been waged on this ground before and most of the time the corporation has won.
No that’s not the lesson. “Assume everything you post to facebook can be read by absolutely everyone and that includes your boss – if theres a chance they will not like it don’t post it.” What kind of Orwellian police state do we live in? Do not write on your Facebook pages anything critical of your employer that you are unable or unwilling to substantiate. Do not write anything libellous of anyone. But be yourself, be honest, and don’t live in fear for goodness sake. Putting your employer into disrepute does NOT include being gay or saying you’re gay even if your employer is a faith-based body.
I said from the outset that the employer may be in difficulty with this demotion. It remains to be seen how this matter will unfold.
It certainly does not reflect well on us – the idea that we need “protection” from someone like this is risible.
It does remain to be seen how this matter will unfold.
Speculation without knowledge of events within that organisation is not helpful
de Villers, at what stage an employer should take direct action to protect their employees is subjective and will depend (to some extent) on how those who feel offended have been impacted upon.
There is nothing in the story that this action was to protect the employer’s employees. It would be surprising if that were so given that the comments were made on Facebook rather than in the workplace.
In terms of discrimination law, there is no suggestion that he subjected anyone to less favourable treatment on grounds of sexuality, no suggestion that imposed a provision, criterion or practice that disadvantaged any person on grounds of sexuality and no suggestion that he engaged in unwanted conduct related to sexuality which had the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
Those are the three main forms of prohibited conduct in relation to discrimination. As you and I have both said, we shall see how matters unfold. I have expressed myself cautiously in respect of each post that has related to the employer’s behaviour.
The internal investigation began as the result of a complaint against Mr Smith by a colleague who was alarmed at the content of Mr Smith’s message. It is reasonable to presume that the trust not only wanting to protect organisational integrity by upholding its code of conduct may have felt a duty towards the welfare of the complainant.
In terms of law, this is more about employment law than about the Equality act or other forms of discrimination
I think it is ,ore specifically the young LGBT people who are homeless or in hostile domestic environments that the Trafford Housing Trust has been trying to support and to protect from people who see them as less than equal.
Mr Smith clearly announced his ideological opposition to full equality for LGBT’s on his facebook page, he apparently bases his opposition to equality in Religious dogma and his exclusive interpretation of Bible scripture.
But surely the man is entitled to his opinion? The fact he thinks that churches should not be forced to carry out same-sex marriages is hardly homophobic, if anything, I would actually call it self-defence.
It seems some people are just too damn sensitive and accuse anybody of criticising a minority as being a bigot when often the accusation is totally justified.
The disciplining of Mr Smith is nothing to do with his opinion according to this housing trust, and I tend to believe them (with reservation that I do not have full knowledge of the facts). One of my reasons for my erring on the side of the trust, is that the manipulative and disingenuous Christian Institute is leading the media spin on behalf of Mr Smith. I therefore, doubt the integrity of Mr Smiths story as told in the media.
Time for the trust to appologise and acnowledge they acted totally out of any reasonable proportions…
The “disrepute” response is nothing else than using a “panick” defense after an anti-gay attack.
This man made a valid and legal statement of his personal ideas, nothing less, nothing more!
Come on trust, do the right thing! Appologise and give this man bac his work and pay, and take the cost for your actions..
Well I certainly don’t see how you can make such a cast iron judgement on this without knowing the full facts.
Would you like to state that to the jury in the recent murder case that the defendant went on violent porn sites?
One can only judge someone based on the facts available. Trying to second-guess is pure speculation, and you as an ex-police officer should know that.
These are two entirely different issues.
Firstly in the court room where Tabak was tried, the evidence of the violent porn was (rightly in my opinion) not introduced to the jury who were charged with trying this man. However, evidence of prior conduct was given to the judge to determine sentence.
The comparison in this case, is a case of Mr Smiths breach of code of conduct is presented, and a decision made whether or not he has breached the code. Then his prior conduct or aggravating or mitigating factors are presented and a decision made on an appropriate penalty.
In a criminal justice scenario, previous convictions and cautions are crucial in sentencing reports to determine the correct penalty.
There may not be relevant in determining guilt (although on rare occasions can be), but certainly are relevant in determining appropriacy of penalty.
To suggest prior behaviour is irrelevant is at best naive, at worst disingenuous.
I agree with Stu.
No, indeed. This does reflect back bad on our strife for full equality, just because a few …. scared to lose their equality points reacted totally out of proportions..
I don’t believe that this case has anything to do with LGBT people seeking equality.
I think those who claim it reflects badly on LGBT people fighting for equality, are the ones causing this incident to reflect badly themselves.
This is purely about employee conduct, and potential to bring the name of an organisation into disrepute (which need not actually occur for the organisation to take action).
I agree. Total over-reaction by people that aren’t even part of the cause but want to be seen to be.
Thanks guys (& gals) – the previous comments I find quite heartening. Let’s hope justice will be done.
I do hope justice will be done.
I do hope if Mr Smith has been treated disproportionately that there is a realistic and honest remedy to this.
However, I do feel this is very much trial by media and people making judgements without having the full facts, and some of those are facts that the should not be in the public domain eg Mr Smiths disciplinary record.
This is the sort of furore that the Christian Institute were seeking, in my humble opinion.
> This is the sort of furore that the Christian Institute were seeking, in my humble opinion.
Perhaps – and how they will be able to milk this one. How unfortunate for us to be cast simultaneously in the two contradictory roles of oppressors and weaklings.
The housing trust could not have won this one.
If they acted the way they did, they faced criticism from the CI, some of the LGBT communities and perhaps the media.
If they failed to act, they risked an alternative media story of being an organisation that trumpets its LGBT credentials, but endorses homophobia by failing to act. They could also have faced claims from the colleague of Mr Smith who made the complaint that he/she were not being protected (unclear how far that could be pursued but nonetheless could have been an expensive and difficult PR process) and the internal message would have been that the code of conduct is an irrelevance as the housing trust will not enforce it.
I see your point Stu – dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.
Not being privy to the details e.g. the Code of Conduct, it does make commenting difficult as we agree.
If the Trust did what they did to carry favour with a vested interest group (as is being suggested in this thread) then that would be wrong. They would be better off doing the “right thing” even if we differ what that is. I agree enforcing the code of conduct would be a good place to start providing the outcome is proproportionate and not excessive..
I suspect that the Code might highlight subjective notions like bringing the Trust in disrepute, for who decides? For me the fact that an employee could comment on gay marriage in his private capacity (if as it seems that is what he did) yet still abide by its Equal Opportunities policy would in my view only go to enhance its reputation. For others such as the complainent and some PN readers the opposite would be true.
I might venture to suggest to the Trust that it might want to review its Code of Conduct and ensure that it is fair to all and does not pander to the PC mentality that seems to be gripping out statutory and other organisations.
I would very much like to know who presented this story about the housing trust being concerned about its award.
Did that come from Trafford Housing, from the Albert Kennedy Trust or did this come from Mr Smith or the CI, or from somewhere else? I suspect the full truth regarding the Albert Kennedy Trust award and the trusts keenness to retain their award is somewhat different to what the media have been fed and spun.
The housing trust were damned if they did, damned if they didnt. However, I suspect having read many articles about this issue now, that the stance taken may well be that a technical breach of the code of conduct has occurred. I suspect there will be a view taken that this had potential to bring the trust into disrepute. Surely the people to make that decision are the senior managers of the trust, not the employee facing disciplinary action?
I actually agree that an employee should be able to make (most) comments outside of work without fear of penalty …
I think the problem of linking gay marriage with equal opportunities is that by doing so you are saying that allowing gay folk to marry is an equal opportunity issue.
Putting aside for a moment whether what one believes and acts upon in one’s private life should mirror what one has to implement as an employee of an equal opportunities employer, who decides where the line is drawn (I would wager that this is not addressed in the Code of Conduct)?
For example, I accept the righteous indignation of gay folk when some Christians link homosexuality to polygamy, incest and bestiality, and recognise that they agree with me that equal opportunities regarding marriage should not extend to people who practice these things. Similarly, we recognise a serving prisoner does not have an equal opportunity to paid employment nor a convicted sex offender have an equal opportunity to work with children and no doubt many other examples come to mind.
Don’t get me wrong, the work I do in the community continually offers up challenges where people’s equal opportunities need to be safeguarded and this I am happy to champion. But equal opportunities cannot apply to everything, including in my view marriage, as traditionally understood, which is meant for mutual companionship, procreation and the good of society.
To paraphrase the good book – it is righteousness that exalts a nation (not its committment to a not always well defined notion of equal opportunities).
… from his/her employer. There will always be exceptions to this rule eg specifically and directly linking the employer to matters which cause them to be brought into disrepute, illegal activity eg inciting violence/terrorism etc etc
However, the trust have been clear that this is less about the content of his message on facebook and more about a breach of the code of conduct.
As I have said many times before, the penalty might be disproportionate, but without additional information it is speculative to say that with any sense of confidence/
I suspect there are numerous facts which either Mr Smith does not wish disclosed, the trust are respecting confidentiality duties by not disclosing, or that both parties feel should not become public … that if known may cause some people on either or both sides of this debate to say – fair enough, the penalty was/was not proportionate. Without the additional information – its pure speculation.
If we talk simply about employment, then I would accept there is less of a equal opportunities aspect towards same sex marriages and CPs, other than there should be no unfair treatment in favour (or against) or one candidate or employee that relates to them being in a CP, same sex marriage, heterosexual marriage, or not. Otherwise, in terms of employment equality, the issues of equal marriage really lacks relevance.
I profoundly disagree that equal marriage does not have a place within equality. The entire reason that we are striving to ensure there is equal marriage is because same sex couples are being treated as inferior to opposite sex couples in terms of civil (and arguably religious) marriage.
I agree there are some equalities that can not happen, for safety reasons eg abusers should not work with children on release. However, society should strive to be fair.
I agree that it would be unwise for a state to force people to marry those their conscience will not allow.
I think once again the fact we don’t have all the facts means our opinions have to be qualified.
Given likely that only the people who produced the Code of Conduct in this case can fully say what it is they intended or meant (in case of ambiguity), if that is not conveyed clearly to the people who are meant to carry out the Code, then I find it difficult to be sympathetic.
I’m in a fortunate postion these days of not having to sign up to Codes of Conduct (being the pedantic ****** I am, in the past I was fairly hot on these things, then only in its infancy), certainly not one’s like what appears to have emanated from the Trust. If I were, I would seek clarification in case of ambiguity or where I felt uncomfortable (and if I did I would not sign and face the consequences).
I suspect though that few would act like that either because they want to keep their job or are unaware of the issues.
I’m afraid the battle looks set to continue …
Hi Stu: I think our posts are criss crossing but I note your points.
My understanding that Mr. Smith’s Facebook writings were only for the eyes of “friends” who would have known his position in the trust whether he had put it in his profile (probably unwisely) or not. I don’t think he was trying to do anything to undermine the Trust per se or underhanded like suggesting he was speaking on the Trust’s behalf.
All this (one hopes) will come out in due course and until then is all subject to conjecture.
I do respect your view btw that gay marriage is an equal opps issue and do have sympathy with gay folk who feel the pain of not being able to “marry” the person they love. You know my position … (rightly or wrongly) I can only endorse what I see to be right and in my understanding marriage as traditionally defined is of utmost importance to maintain and nothing can match it. If society wishes to introduce something to override that understanding then of course I will have to respect the laws and customs of that society.
… now I must get back to my paid job :-)
I personally think the housing Trust did the right thing.
I think so too Robbie.
The Trust said on Saturday night: “We expect employees at all levels to act respectfully and adopt our ethos of valuing, respecting, supporting and treating people with dignity regardless of their age, disability, faith, gender or gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status or race/ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
“We expect employees at all levels to act respectfully and adopt our ethos of valuing, respecting, supporting and treating people with dignity regardless of …”
Do you not think you can still do this while respectfully venturing an opinion on gay marriage on a Facebook page, which only “friends” can access?
One of those “friends” was also a colleague, who then subsequently made a complaint, thus bringing this issue into the workplace …..
Which just demonstrates how petty-minded and trivial some people can be.
You may think its petty – and I may even agree … nonetheless, from an employers perspective a dispute which was regarded as potentially homophobic (debatable?) was brought into the workplace by a complaint from a colleague. The employer has a duty to ensure the welfare of all employees, including the person making a complaint.
From one perspective, without full facts, the technical breach of code of conduct could be seen as something which required arguably little more than words of advice. However, we do not have the full information that the employer would have when a decision on breach of the code was made. Therefore, it is perfectly feasible this penalty is right. That said, I do not think it reflects on the LGBT communities as a whole.
What Stu says is correct.
Also JohnB, Mr Smith’s stated opinions were not respectful of gay couples religious freedom, he presumes that a gay couples could not believe in God never mind that some gay people/couples do believe in God and may wish to marry in church for that reason, his other comments were gratuitous and uncalled-for as there has been no suggestion that churches who didn’t want to marry same sex couples will be forced to, also although Mr Smith tries to suggest it does, the Bible does not state that same sex couples are to be excluded from marriage. and as there are.several countries where same sex marriages already take place, contrary to what Adrian Smith says, marriage can be between one man and another man, one woman and another woman as well as between one man and one woman.
At what point does stating your opinion that your church may be forced to accept gay marriage affect that above statement? I see no conflict whatsoever.
It’s anti-gay scaremongering for the sake of scaremongering, no church will be forced to provide same sex marriages.
@Pavlos: Actually, I don’t think it is scaremongering. I think it is more likely the man has picked up disinformation, rumour or hearsay spread by the likes of the Daily Mail.
He made a statement on what he believed to be fact. I am no Christian, but if it were the case that churches were forced to hold gay marriages, I would be the first to complain.
The unfortunate fact in this case is the guy has been demoted after he voiced an opinion about something that wasn’t even true.