Biopharma employee sent Facebook worker ‘extremely unwise’The letter was awarded €40,380 for unfair dismissal.
The message contained inappropriate language of a possible sexual innuendo in nature.
The Labor Relations Commission (WRC) arbitrator Peter O’Brien found that the main Irish arm of US firm Regeneron unfairly dismissed Robert Libra for gross misconduct on March 20, 2019.
Regeneron has its manufacturing base at Dell’s former site in Limerick. Mr. Libera served as the Manufacturing Support Officer with the company.
Regeneron Ireland DAC has fired Mr Libera after a 22-year-old woman employed by an outside supplier on the site filed a complaint regarding a Facebook messaging exchange between the two on January 18, 2019.
In her initial complaint, the woman said that after Mr. Libera gave her fruit juice, he hinted that it might contain biological liquid or otherwise, and sent her a message saying there was « part of it » « inside her » and « if she felt part of it inside her ».
In his findings, Mr. O’Brien determined that the text message may have been intended to be humorous but could be viewed as isolating « as inappropriate, offensive and containing possible sexual innuendos ».
Mr. O’Brien stated that whatever Mr. Libera intended, « the letter was seriously ill-advised and contained inappropriate language of a potentially sexual innuendo in nature ».
Mr. O’Brien says Mr. Libra’s case is « very weak on the merits » but succeeds primarily on procedural grounds.
In presenting the award, Mr. O’Brien weighed Mr. Libera’s contribution to his loss at 40%.
Mr. O’Brien said: « Sending a letter as he did to a female co-worker, no matter how frivolous or ludicrous the complainant (Mr. Libra) considered it, was inappropriate and poor judgment, and led to disastrous consequences for Mr. Libra. »
The woman lodged a complaint about the letter and met with Regeneron investigators where she initially described the exchange to Regeneron investigators as « it had a huge impact on her that weekend and it was the worst weekend of her life. »
The woman initially stated that she was terrified and felt physically ill as a result of the exchange with Mr. Libra.
However, Mr. Libera told WRC that he had attached the script to an excerpt from an American cartoon,, which states almost exactly what Mr. Libera mentioned in the text exchange.
Documents submitted to Mr. Libera show that the woman did not seeA clip before filing her complaint while each of the three Regeneron decision-makers who rejected Mr Libera confirmed that they had not seen the YouTube clip.
Mr. Libera’s legal representatives say thatThe clip « proves there was no ill intent in communications and was intended as a joke. »
Describing himself as « bigFan,” Mr. Libera expected the woman to know the context of his comments because they were well known and common phrases in them .
Two days later on January 20, the woman emailed Regeneron to say she was withdrawing her complaint and that she now had a different view of the messages.
Mr. O’Brien stated that nearly all of the woman’s comments in the January 20 email favored Mr. Libera and that the woman did not want the investigation to continue.
However, Mr. O’Brien said the email was never made available to Mr Libera during the investigation into the initial complaint and was not made available to Regeneron decision makers who decided to fire Mr Libera.
Mr. O’Brien said it was really questionable whether any investigation at all should have started on the allegation based on annotations by the woman who made the initial complaint.
Mr O’Brien said the failure to provide the January 20 email to Mr Libera was a grave omission of natural justice that put him at a very disadvantage in defending his position.
He said it was a very serious flaw in the Regeneron case because the woman who received the text had significantly modified her views on the case and did not wish to proceed with the investigation.
The January 20 email was made available only to Mr. Libera’s lawyer, Keating Connolly Sellors Solicitors, after they filed a GDPR data request following his dismissal.
Legal representatives stated that Mr. Libera’s actions, with his good past record, should have resulted in a much lower sentence than dismissal.
They stated that Mr. Libera’s career was derailed and he suffered financial and long-term damage to his career prospects.
« Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante. »
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