Ross Strowger: It’s not wise to speak in haste

Ross Strowger, Ashton KCJ. Picture submitted

Ross Strowger, Ashton KCJ. Picture submitted - Credit: Archant

A company director found herself the subject of a lot of press attention a few weeks ago when she sent an abusive rejection e-mail to an applicant who had been interviewed for a position as a self-employed labourer.

The foul-mouthed email tirade described the 48 year old as 'an old, aesthetically challenged guy with no teeth'. It went on to say '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.'

The director said that she thought the applicant had behaved in a rude and offensive way at their meeting. She said that the email had been sent in error, and she had merely been venting her frustration after, somewhat ironically, reading an article that day suggesting that anger and upset could be released by writing it down. Unfortunately, it was that 'rant' which made it to the unsuccessful applicant's inbox, rather than the alternative, and more appropriate email she had drafted giving feedback on the interview.

This is an extreme example of what not to say. While problems with performance in a work environment, for example, may involve some plain-speaking, it is important not to resort to personal attacks.

There is a raft of legislation that could be breached by such a conversation, including the Equality Act, and getting it wrong can be costly.

Employers should remember that during any discussion with a member of staff, it is very important to document what is said. This can be in the form of an email or a note put on their personnel file.

An employer should also look at how anyone with responsibility for staff management is properly trained.

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That could be in the form of refresher training held in-house on the companies procedures but externally delivered training on employment law and any changes is also extremely beneficial.