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Abusive email puts employer on the spot

View profile for Alexandra Dean
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The email was sent to 48 year old James Allen, a former serviceman from Devon, who was described in the letter as ‘an old, aesthetically challenged guy with no teeth’.

Written by the company director of a window and conservatory manufacturer, the message to the would-be labourer read: “You are not only the most inappropriate person for this job, but probably for any job you will spend the next few years applying for, only to get rejected as soon as they meet you.”

Sarah Hassler, the company director who wrote the abusive email has said that it was a mistake that she sent her so-called ‘rant’, saying that she had read an article suggesting that anger and upset could be released by writing down how one felt, but not sharing what was written. She said that she had written an appropriate email turning down James Allen for the job, but the two had become muddled and she had sent the wrong one.

Said employment law expert Alexandra Dean of Gepp & Sons solicitors: “This is a pretty extreme example of what not to say to either a potential or existing employee. And whilst problems with performance, for example, may involve some plain-speaking, it’s important that you keep to the facts and don’t resort to any personal attacks.  

“There’s a raft of legislation that could be breached by such a conversation, including the Equality Act, and getting it wrong could turn a performance review into an expensive conversation for the company.”  

Alex added: “In any discussion with a member of staff, whether a performance review or simply a general discussion about their role and responsibilities, it’s very important to document what is said. It’s also worth looking at how anyone in the business with responsibility for staff management and interaction is properly trained in the right procedures.

“Most importantly, everyone should know they can’t draft ill-considered emails, or share frustrations with other colleagues, even to release pent-up anger.”

At Gepp & Sons Solicitors we can advise on all aspects of employment law. For more information and guidance, please contact Alexandra Dean on 01245 228141 or email deana@gepp.co.uk

This is not lagal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.