independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Apple boss behind 'butt-wiggling' claim denies vendetta against Irish manager

Will Reeves, who is taking the global giant to court for allegedly dismissing him unfairly

A SENIOR executive with US computer giant Apple claimed an Irish-based manager was the focus of a complaint that he had "wiggled his butt" in front of employees.

Apple executive James Verner made the claim as he denied that he had any personal vendetta against Cork-based manager Will Reeves, who was dismissed just three months after turning down a €400,000 relocation package to California.

He was dismissed despite his performance ratings marking him as one of the computer firm's top worldwide managers.

Mr Verner's claim, which was made before an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing yesterday, came despite Apple acknowledging in written submissions that "the complaint is without foundation".

Mr Verner said: "(He was alleged to have) wiggled his butt in front of the group."

He added that it was further alleged Mr Reeves told a female employee "she needed to smile more often".

Mr Reeves's counsel angrily dismissed the allegations.

Apple's written submissions to the tribunal acknowledge that the complaint, levelled in August 2010 against Mr Reeves at the firm's California headquarters, was "without foundation".

It further emerged that the female US employee who made the complaint had earlier been placed on a 'performance improvement programme' over her work by Mr Reeves.

The Irish manager was deeply unhappy over the complaint and its aftermath.

"He was displeased that she (the female employee) was not dealt with more severely... I think he felt she should be dismissed," Mr Verner said.

UNFAIR

Mr Reeves, a father of five, is now taking an action for unfair dismissal.

Mr Verner, Apple's director of global planning, said Mr Reeves had been in charge of spare parts and support materials for the US firm's entire European, Middle Eastern and African operation.

He was based in Cork for five years up to December 2010.

In 2009, Mr Reeves assumed the role of project management officer, where he ran a team based in Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

He was based in Cork and Mr Verner decided he would be much more effective in his role if he relocated to Apple's base in Cupertino.

An offer was made to Mr Reeves to relocate and Mr Verner said it was worth €400,000.

Mr Reeves went with his wife to California in August 2010 but, a few weeks later, decided not to accept the position for family reasons. Mr Verner said Mr Reeves's job was effectively transferring to the US and his old Cork job "was eliminated".

The Apple executive denied that he had developed a dislike to Mr Reeves. "There was no indication that he was devastated or upset by his treatment (in 2010)," Mr Verner said.

This was despite an email from Mr Reeves in 2010 querying whether he was the focus of a constructive dismissal.

"My career development is not being catered for in any shape or form," Mr Reeves wrote in one email. However, Mr Verner complained to Apple human resources that Mr Reeves was now "particularly paranoid".

When the Irish manager declined to move to the US and was told he was being dismissed, Mr Verner wrote in one email: "The message is weird... he is with the hottest company in the world (Apple) and it is growing like a weed."

In another email to a senior Apple manager about Mr Reeves, Mr Verner wrote: "... got it... another shoulder (for him) to cry on won't hurt."

The hearing continues today.

Irish Independent

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