Thursday 13 December 2018

Company director fired over alleged 'dick' remark to female colleague seeks injunction

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Aodhan O'Faolain

A SENIOR director with video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) says he was fired for allegedly telling a female colleague he was not "going to pull my dick out and put it on the table" next to another woman colleague "to see who has the bigger dick".

Philippe Grenet (56), who earns €160,000 per annum as director of global delivery service for EA Ireland, denies making the comment in a one-to-one video conversation with a female colleague who is based in Austin Texas on November 9 last, the High Court heard.

What he actually said was "I don't want to compare the length of my dick" with the colleague, he says.

On Thursday, he was granted a temporary injunction restraining his dismissal.

The court heard he accepts the remark was a clumsy, inelegant and ill-advised expression, but says it means he "did not want to challenge" that particular person on a work matter. 

He also claims, in an affidavit, that the member of his staff who made the complaint, Tracy Simmons, is actuated by malice.

He said she had not been successful after expressing an interest in the role he was appointed to.

He further claims she exhibited a negative attitude towards him, and had frequently undermined his authority as her manager, and had interpersonal difficulties with other EA employees.

As a result of Ms Simmons complaint, he was dismissed.

He claims that decision by EA is flawed was done in breach of fair procedures and in the absence of any proper investigative or disciplinary processes.

Mr Grent's lawyers secured an injunction restraining his employer, which is based in Galway City, from dismissing him, or from appointing anyone else to his role with the company, pending further order.

The injunction was granted on a one side only represented basis by Mr Justice Senan Allen who said the case could return next week.

Oisiin Quinn SC,  for Mr Grenet,  said there was no proper or valid investigation of the claims against his client, for whom Engish was not the first language.

The allegations have been "twisted out of context" by someone who "wants to get rid" of his client.

The accounts of what was said at the meeting were different, although his client has admitted using the work "dick" in the conversation.

A few days after the complaint was made Mr Grenet attended a brief meeting and was suspended from his role.

At a further meeting on November 14, he was informed his employment had been terminated for gross misconduct and that he had breached EA's harassment and equality policy.

Counsel said Mr Grenet was not afforded fair procedures, and the process was run in a shambolic and utterly prejudicial manner. 

Counsel said that EA contends that he has admitted the wrongdoing and that it is entitled to terminate his employment.

EA has rejected in correspondence there were any flaws in the disciplinary process, he said. 

His client is a married man with a young son who moved to Galway from France earlier this year.

He was in charge of 420 people working for EA in Galway, and a further 80 people in Texas.

He fears the impact the allegations and his purported dismissal will have on his reputation and his future.  He has a long career in the industry and has always conducted himself in a proper and honest manner.

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