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No sex, please, I'm quitting

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The viral email sent by disgruntled employee Kieran Allen to staff at media agency MEC on Tuesday is a reminder employers need to have clearly communicated procedures in place to regulate employee behaviour when they have decided to leave the company, a legal expert has warned.

Allen’s resignation email, printed in full in Tuesday’s Daily Mail, detailed his grievances with a manager at the London-based agency. He accused this manager of ruining his working life, making inappropriate remarks about the Paralympics as well as other sexist and racist comments, and of having sex in an office meeting room with a female, following an interview.

The email went viral after being posted on social networking site Twitter, and was one of the top trending stories of the day via a hashtag using the manager’s name.

Harmajinder Hayre, employment partner at HR Legal Service (www.hrlegalservice.co.uk), said the continuing rise of social media makes it harder for employers to regulate behaviour.

Historically, an employer could physically regulate the activities of an employee when they had taken the decision to leave the business by removing them from the premises. However, the continuing rise of employees communicating via the internet, and in particular social media feeds, requires an employer to think laterally about how to minimise the fall-out and risk of an employee exiting the business,” he said.

“Key to this is the employer setting out clear rules around what is and is not acceptable as a medium of any form of communication by the employee and the consequences of breaching those rules. Derogatory comments via Twitter or any other form of social media should be regulated in the same way as any form of conduct and/or performance management issue.”

Allen had worked at MEC for two-and-a-half years before deciding to leave after the manager put him on a performance review and blocked a bonus, according to his email.  He says this followed a two-week absence when he was signed off work for work-related stress. Prior to this, he says, he was lauded for his “outstanding” work, given a hefty pay rise and persuaded to stay in October last year, when he had decided to join another agency for career development reasons.

MEC will not comment further than a statement released on Tuesday. This said: “We are sad that one of our employees has chosen to share their personal views in such a public way and has left the company with such bad feeling. We are taking this issue seriously, although, given the highly personal nature of the email, we cannot comment further.”

Simon Bassett, managing director of marketing recruiter EMR, said Allen may live to regret his parting shot in the long term.

Attacking the conduct of his former bosses has ensured his fame in social media circles, but the very same tweeters who are sharing the story with glee may one day have his CV on their desk and will think twice about hiring someone who feels this is best way to settle a complaint,” Bassett said.

“By sending such a personal attack to all users at his company, Allen is playing a dangerous game in a sector that prides itself on speedy and widespread communication – meaning his message has certainly got out, but at potentially huge cost to his future career.”