Hot off the presses from the Telegraph comes news that a (former?) employee has gathered quite high-profile support from Louise Mensch (a Tory MP) and Alistair Campbell (former ‘spin doctor’ for New Labour) after being dismissed from his employment. Apparently Roy Ward (writting under the Twitter name @badlydrawnroy) had “opened up” to his employer regarding his depression. Shortly after having done so he received a letter dismissing him from his employment. This letter – posted up on Twitter – stated that the company couldn’t afford “passengers”.
Although one can sympathise with small business to a certain extent in situations such as this, Mr Ward’s employers have duties (among others) to not discriminate against Mr Ward on the basis of his disability and a further obligation to terminate his employment fairly. It would appear on the prima facie evidence here that they have possibly failed on both counts.
Although Twitter is commonly derided, it can serve important purposes – as is illustrated in this case. Firstly, it allows employees to air grievances and receive support (if their case warrants this). This can serve to redress the asymmetry of power that exists between the employer and the employee. Secondly, it highlights the continuing problems that employees face with reference to discrimination and the precarious nature of their position at work. Hopefully, disclosures such as this can only help to pressure employers into fair work practices.