An executive who posted his CV online was forced out of his job because he was stated he was interested in ‘career opportunities’, a tribunal heard today.
John Flexman is thought to be the first person in the country to bring a case for constructive dismissal after a dispute over putting his details on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
The 34-year-old, who is a former manager in the British Army, is pursuing a claim potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds against BG Group, a gas exploration company based in Reading, Berkshire, where he earned £68,000 pounds a year as Graduate and Development Manager.
As well as loading his CV onto the site, Mr Flexman ticked the box to register an interest in ‘career opportunities’.
But he was contacted by his manager whilst on a family holiday in the United States and ordered to remove his CV.
On his return he was accused of ‘inappropriate use of social media’ and called to attend an internal disciplinary hearing.
The firm said he was in breach of new company policy on conflicts of interest which, it claims, bans employees from ticking the ‘career opportunities’ box.
Mr Flexman was also accused of citing bad practices at the company on the LinkedIn website to portray himself in a positive light, to further his career.
Ian Gatt QC, representing BG Group, said: ‘In effect what you were saying was ‘what a terrible place this is but what a great job I’ve done’.
‘Other people from the company were on LinkedIn but none of those people made derogatory comments like you.’
Mr Flexman conceded: ‘What I should have done in hindsight was give it a bit more consideration as to what content I put on the website.
‘But did I do it to further my career? That’s absolute nonsense.’
Mr Flexman claimed the company had a vendetta against him and had started a witch-hunt to get him ‘booted out.’
He said that the company had tried to offer him a compromise agreement of three months wages for him to leave, without him initiating such a negotiation – against employment law.
He also claimed the disciplinary hearing and process had been flawed from the outset.
He was also accused of including confidential information in his CV such as details about how he had reduced the rate of ‘staff attrition’.
Mr Flexman, in cross-examination by the company at the tribunal today, admitted going into ‘too much detail’ on the CV which was publicly open for anybody to view.
In the CV Mr Flexman, who had worked at BG Group in various roles for eight years, stated the company had ‘inadequate and ineffective global resource planning’, ‘lacked active talent management’ and highlighted the fact the president of the firm’s Italian branch was arrested over allegations of corruption.
However Mr Flexman, from Andover, Hampshire, claims the details were available in the company’s annual reports and that 21 of his colleagues, including the manager of the disciplinary process, had ticked the box but had not been disciplined.
On his return to work he was handed a list of disciplinary charges and told he could be sacked, Reading Employment Tribunal heard.
Mr Flexman said: ‘It seemed to me that the focus of the charge sheet was the posting of my CV online.
‘I felt like I was being singled out. It is an infringement of my personal liberty (being ordered to remove CV from website). It is in essence my public CV.
‘It should not be a problem for me to have a LinkedIn profile.’
Mr Gatt told the tribunal the company’s legal department had received an anonymous complaint about Mr Flexman’s LinkedIn account and said he was ordered to take down just two paragraphs from the CV which were ‘negative towards the company’.
The dispute led to Mr Flexman’s resignation in June 2011. The hearing continues.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘BG Group has no issue with employees posting CVs on LinkedIn or any other site.’
The hearing at the Reading Employment Tribunal centre was adjourned.