Tag Archives: Law

Crisp v Apple Retail – Importance of a Social Media Policy

The importance of having a well written Social Media Policy has come to light in an Employment Tribunal case reported by People Management.

In the case, Crisp v Apple, Crisp worked in an Apple Store. He posted derogatory statements on Facebook about Apple and its products. The posts were made on a “private” Facebook page and outside of working hours. One of his colleagues, who happened to be a Facebook “friend”, saw the comments, printed the posts and passed them to the store manager. Crisp was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.

The employment tribunal rejected Crisp’s claim for unfair dismissal. Key to the tribunal’s decision was the fact that Apple had a clear social media policy in place and had made it absolutely plain throughout the induction process that commentary on Apple products, or critical remarks about the brand, were strictly prohibited. Interestingly the tribunal took into account that such comments would be particularly damaging for Apple as image is so central to its success.

If you compare this case to the Club 24 case, involving an employee working for Skoda, the key difference was a clear social media policy. In that case, the employee successfully argued unfair dismissal and yet in the Apple tribunal case it was not unfair.

I could not find what the actual comments that Crisp said and so presumably it was more than just “lol too true” like in the Whitham case and so my guess is that the seriousness of the comments were also taken into account.

That said, I believe it is crucial for firms to have a social media policy for employees, whether that’s to prohibit Facebook and twitter at work, allow it, control it’s use professionally or privately.

If you need help drafting a social media policy for your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Rapport in the Courtroom

This whole blog is becoming devoted to the more personal issues in my life. As you may know, I’m a lawyer (solicitor) a mediator and now an NLP Practictioner. I hope to develop my NLP training into something greater.

This blog post is about one small aspect of NLP – rapport – and how and why it is an essential skill for lawyers (barristers, solicitors, legal executives and, gosh, even secretaries) to have.

Rapport is defined in a multitude of ways, but effectively it’s when two people are connected when communicating, they are on the same wavelength. Rapport takes a while to get used and probably a life time to master but here are some useful steps:

1. Make eye contact first, smile, introduce yourself. Receive the others introduction, repeat their name, ask them something about themselves that’s linked to the environment you’re in.
2. Listen. Actively listen to what the person has to say, as if they are the wisest person you’ve met (they won’t be, but still be interested in them).
3. Pace them/tune in to what they are saying, reflect it back, rephrase it, support them, be empathic. Here’s where you start to build the relationship and let them know you’re listening.
4. Once you have the person on side, you can then lead/tune out, probe, question, reality check, reframe the important stuff or get them to think about their perceptions or beliefs differently.

Every two way conversation needs rapport at its core or else it will be difficult. A one way battle. Like banging your head against the wall. Falling on deaf ears.

How does rapport apply to lawyers and particularly as the title of this blog, in the Courtroom.

I was in Court for an Case Management Conference last week, up against a barrister from London (own account, no chambers). Even before going him, just a polite question from me as to whether his instructing solicitors had provided him with draft directions. The response: pft, we won’t need them after this morning snort snort. Hmm, I said, I wholeheartedly disagree your application is going nowhere fast, so we’ll need to agree directions for Trial. Response: ha, another waste of costs if you ask me, your client is bound to lose, so no point in going to Trial.

In walks Her Honour. I make eye contact and smile. Counsel begins. I’m almost ready to make the unusual step of asking the Court to disregard any submissions on summary judgement because no application has been made just included in submissions filed last yesterday, when the Judge does it for me.

But but but… Counsel continued to argue, not in the legal sense either and indeed at one point the Judge told him to stop squabbling. Counsel was a man without any rapport, any awareness. It was a losing battle but he persisted, which is normally admirable but only when respectful or done intelligently. Counsel had none of the above.

That’s the last I want to hear of that today, let’s look at the other issues, said the Judge.

And so the “spat” between Counsel and Judge continued, me a mere byestander watching, smiling, smirking. A lesson in how not to do advocacy. I’m not an advocacy expert, I do it when required, I don’t profess to be any good. Just honest, to the point and hopefully intelligently. But watching Counsel made me realise that having rapport is incredibly powerful.

Unrapportfulness is yawning and saying sorry that’s boring, when someone is telling you a story. Rapport is truly genuinely being awed by the story.

Counsel had zero rapport. He was literally arguing with the Judge at one point – a battle never to be won.

Last week was a lesson how not to do things. It was also a good demonstration on how my knowledge of NLP can be powerfully used, even as a lawyer.

Indian telesales employee discriminated against after being forced to change name to Rob

Mike Ghandi

In Jain v Teachers 2 Parents Ltd ET Case No. 1900007, an employment tribunal held that an Indian employee who had been instructed to anglicise his name for business usage, suffered race discrimination.

Teachers 2 Parents Ltd is a technology business, supplying software products to schools. Mr Jain, who is Indian-born, was employed by the company as a telesales operator since September 2009. On his first day at work, he was inducted with around nine other new starters and during the induction, a manager informed them that they needed to pick anglicised names before they could start work on the phones. Mr Jain was unhappy about having to change his name and explained that he had operated successfully in sales using his own name, Rahul Jain, which was easily spelt.

However, he was still required to anglicise his name and Mr Jain reluctantly agreed to be called Rob. Other Asian employees at the company also adopted aliases; for example, Mehul became Max; Faizal became Fred and Sarbjit became Sally. When he was dismissed for redundancy, Mr Jain initiated tribunal proceedings, claiming that the requirement to change his name amounted to direct and indirect race discrimination.

Unfair Dismissal

The Government’s new enterprise tsar has suggested that increasing the length of service requirement to 2 years continous service from the one currently needed to bring an unfair dismissal claim would increase employment and help businesses out.

It wouldn’t do either.

Sure, all business would prefer to be able to sack an employee “just because”, but the idea that this is a benefit is misguided.

In my opinion, the 1 years service test should be removed. I see absolutely no reason why employees should be able to be dismissed without a fair reason.

It’s unfair to employees when their company turns round and says, Lord Sugar style, You’re Fired, without it being fair.

To increase the service requirement to 2 years will mean that an employer could sack an employee without cause. This would be devastating for the economy and unemployment already on the brink of collapse.

It would also increase discrimination claims now under the Equality Act, and that just means more litigation, more cost and more problems.

First day in the job for Lord Young, let’s see how he does through his probation period.

Steven Mather
Solicitor

Footnote: this post is typed on my phone, so apologies for spelling mistakes. Steven Mather is a Disputes Solicitor currently available for work.