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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10383
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Customer Question

Good morning, I trust this note finds you well and you are able to help. Please let me know the best way to approach this as I feel my situation is complex and the context is a prerequisite however while typing up the original question i ran out of characters.
Basically i have been dismissed and would like to get guidance on whether you believe there may be a case of unfair discrimination. the behavior i have experienced at the very least is tantamount to corporate bullying.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there do and can you please provide more details in relation to the dismissal.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was employed for two years, three months with and aggressively growing software start-up out of San Francisco. I joined the role to lead the development of the businesses "Emerging Markets" geographies (Middle East, Central, Eastern, South Europe and Africa). In my time with the business I grew the territory single handedly from $150K per annum to $3.3 million.The scope of my role grew quickly as there was no support for my region as the "emerging Markets" territory had a negative perception internally. I quickly needed to undertake a variety of roles including direct sales and building a channel strategy. Despite not receiving any formal training for any of the processes other than booking an order on our CRM. The feeling was that I was hired because the business needed to show it was doing something in the region but the expectation of success was very low. This was evidence several times over my tenure by several members of senior leadership.Within my first three months I needed to do a deal with a partner in Russia, the paperwork went through all the usual approval processes which included checks by the channel director, the sales operations manager and my own VP. Despite this once the deal was closed there was an error due to paperwork and the partner did not receive margin. When I tried to rectify this I was told (email evidence of this exists) by my VP that as it was end of year, backing out this deal would mean the difference between the team making quota and not and that I should "do what it takes to fix it".In the interest of keeping the partner happy for something that was not their fault and not wanting my team to suffer, I offered to pay the partner their margin out of my commission (I know now how naive I was of process/law). the partner at first accepted and then after declined due to tax issues they would have with that and eventually frustrated by not being able to do something they went to my CFO who then pulled me up on my actions. By the time I was pulled up, several months had passed and I was in the top performing category in EMEA.Despite the companies public prostrating about trenchancy being core to the culture I learnt firsthand (this was the first hint I got of the discrimination I felt) that transparency was not a factor in this regard. I was ambushed by my CFO and General Counsel while at a team meeting in the US. I had never met either before and they literally dragged me into a quiet room in the hotel and began interrogating me over ever deal, discussion, skype message or email I had had since joining. They point blank refused to give me any context at all and completely alienated me from my peers by prohibiting me to speaking to anyone about what was being discussed and never offering me any legal counsel. I was exiled for a week, walking around the conference like a zombie unable to share my concerns with anyone and not having any visibility as to the process or the outcomes or anything. after five days of some of the worst panic/anxiety attacks I have had (I never had anxiety before joining this company but now have it so bad I was hospitalized several times) I was dragged aside by my SVP and advised that I would be put on 2 week unpaid suspension. The relief I felt was enormous as I enjoyed my job and my colleagues in EMEA.I need to add now that during the interrogation I was asked if there were any other deals I had had since this issue which may have some discrepancy. I was not given an opportunity to look through our CRM and I was asked to recall everything from memory under incredibly pressure (over 15000 emails at this point) so I said no.Approximately a year passes since this incident, my career prospects have pretty much been destroyed (admitted by my VP due to this incident) however from a sales perspective Emerging markets is the fastest growing region in EMEA and is the only region ahead of quota. on top of that I am about to close the biggest deal the whole company has done in three years, which I have been working on almost single handedly (because I still cannot get support) for 10 months. To put that into context, the senior leadership team of my customer asked me to invite my senior leadership team to visit them in South Africa. My team point blank refused citing everything from Ebola to their lack of faith in the deal. This changed when I was able to convince my customer to fly to San Francisco and meet them. I joined.We spent two days together in SF and afterwards my Senior leadership team (this included my SVP, Founder, CFO, CTO & General counsel - 3/5 involved in my previous issue) getting very excited about this deal coming to fruition. All that was left was to finalize paperwork my team had to do absolutely no additional work to make this deal happen.S
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Shortly after returning the UK another issue cropped up. A deal I had done last year was up for renewal and there was a discrepancy on the renewal fee. I had admittedly made a side agreement not to “uplift” them on renewal. Some background, at the time, as mentioned no one in management saw value in the South African market, so when this deal was negotiated and I encountered incredible resistance from management on the discounts I knew they would not accept the uplift being waived. At the time I owned the renewal component and felt confident that the customer would be so happy and successful over 12 months that when the renewal came up I would be able to renegotiate. (I did not get paid on renewals only on the uplift so there was no personal gain for me here). During the 12 months the company introduced a new team to own renewals so I simply lost sight of this until the renewal was due and then it was too late for me to try renegotiate and my CFO was informed.In my opinion this was all he needed to throw me under the bus and get his opportunity to make an example me, the opportunity he had missed the year before and which is why I felt I had struggled so much to build any internal relations since, because of this grudge the cfo and general counsel had towards me.Anyway internal investigation kicked off and again I was interrogated, ambushed, and isolated without any visibility of the process or next steps or anything, needless to say this, on top of the deal I was trying to close had my anxiety in over drive. After two weeks of being kept in the dark I was eventually informed by being dragged into room that I was being dismissed and the fundamental reason being that this was my second offence and that I had not admitted it when they asked me if there were any other deals which may have issues the year before (see above for why I could not recall).
Bear in mind though (this was the second hard example of proactive discrimination and there is auditable evidence of this) at least 3 others Sales people had also done exactly the same types of side agreements in the past as well as other more serious offenses for which they received only a “slap on the wrist”.I was offered 2 weeks’ pay and I was agreed that if the large deal I was working on closed with 45 days that I would be paid on it.
I expressed concern on the ground that normal practice for deal hand over of this size is at least a quarter and I would still get paid and secondly that because no one was flying o SA to close the deal that I should get 45 working days. The company refused. I left and found alternative employment. I never signed the settlement agreement.The deal closed within 45 “working days” so I missed the opportunity to be paid, to the tune of £174K after tax.
My thinking here is that I was pushed out because the account manager who actually owned this global account (it is UK head quartered but I closed the deal from SA) was on a £100k base, had political sponsorship and not closed a thing since joining the company so there was mounting pressure on senior leadership for him to get a win under the belt. In addition the fact that I had closed this deal and made it public I had had no support from leadership was another reason to get rid of me.Want to also point out that while I was advised several time that all sales people were compensated equally I have since found out that I was the lowest paid sales person and my request for a review had gone ignored for 3 months plus. This was prior to this incident.Now nearly a month after leaving I get an email from former employee general counsel asking me to call. I do and he does not answer. I emailed him back advising that I did not appreciate the lack of detail in his email and that he knows my anxiety will flare up. Eventually he calls to advise that the company has decided to pay me 25% of the commission due subject to me signed the settlement agreement. My thinking here is that there was legal exposure they did not want and this is basically a bribe.I agree, my counsel promises to have revised paperwork to me shortly and we’ll go ahead. That was two weeks ago and despite several calls and emails he has ignored me. This to me is another example of how they found some sick amusement in bullying me, now I have made financial commitments with the expectations of these funds and have nothing for it.My question, obviously is do you believe I have ground to sue them for decimation? And if so I would like to claim for the full amount of commission due plus loss of future earning because the unfair dismal equivalent, based on year on year growth of my territory to at least another £200k.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Were you employed under a UK contract?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
yes
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
I have looked into your query in more detail but unfortunately it is not something I can assist with. I will therefore ‘opt out’ and a colleague better placed to deal with the nature of your query should hopefully pick this up soon. Please do not reply in the meantime as that will just assign the question back to me and you will experience a delay. Thank you
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find a new professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're OK with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Nicola
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nicola,Please continue searching for an alternative. This is quite an important matter so I'd like to get some kind of answer as soon as possible.Thanks in advance
Clayton
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you.
Thank you for your patience,
Nicola
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
I apologise as we have not yet been able to find a Professional to assist you. Do you wish for me to continue to search for someone to assist you or would you like for us to close your question at this time?
Thank you for your patience,
Nicola
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nicola, is there a reason it is not possible to get the question answered? I would think this is a relevantly standard employment law question.Do you not have resources on your books? I am willing to adjust the pay scale to get this looked at
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
We do have several Employment law experts but I have to say, on the basis of experience, I don't think this is a simple question. It could involve a combination of areas of Expertise that aren't easy to find.
Thank you,
Nicola
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, that's fair. Right now all I am after, on the basis of what I have shared, is an opinion of whether this is worth pursuing or not as I have a limited timeframe in which to respond. Hope this makes sense and hopefully it's something someone can help withThanks in advance
Kind regards
Clayton
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you.
Thank you for your patience,
Nicola
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Nicola,I'll give it one more day but I am disappointed
Thanks
Clayton
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello Clayton,
I understand your frustration. I am sending this out to Experts again with a stronger message that you would really like an answer.
Thank you,
Nicola

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