Employers have a responsibility to ensure they create a culture within their organisation that calls out and challenges 'rogue' employees if they want to prevent the potential fallout from bad behaviour in the workplace, according to employment law specialist Advocate Elaine Gray.
The head of Carey Olsen's dispute resolution and litigation practice, she was speaking at their annual employment law conference along with fellow employment law specialist Carly Parrott and the Carey Olsen employment team.
Advocate Gray said businesses had to have effective policies and procedures in place, which they actively live by, to stop employees becoming rogue employees.
"There are certain steps and measures as an employer that you can readily take to limit the potential damage which might otherwise arise from the actions of a rogue employee," she said.
"For example, if you have somebody in your organisation who has unfettered access to all sensitive information, including that of your clients and staff, you have to ask yourself whether that is completely necessary. You need safeguards in place to protect your company's assets, information and reputation. Essentially, don't let your organisation make it easy for rogue employees to inflict damage."
The conference explored a day in the life of a fictional rouge employee, Roger Roguen, who had spent his morning leaking sensitive company data to local and online news outlets and his lunchtime at home venting his frustrations against his employer on social media. His afternoon included backdating trust documentation, while his evening involved copious amounts of alcohol, discriminatory comments to a junior female colleague and an incident with a beer bottle that resulted in the hospitalisation of a colleague. None of these incidents were authorised or condoned by his employer, some taking place when Roger was not in the workplace, and yet all of them led to serious consequences for the employer. The issue of vicarious liability of an employer for the actions of a rogue employee was therefore brought into sharp focus.
Pictured: employment law specialist Carly Parrott.
The conference also heard of the real-life example involving supermarket chain Morrisons who suffered a serious data breach in 2014 when a disgruntled internal auditor, Andrew Skelton, leaked the payroll data of nearly 100,000 staff. He was jailed for eight years in 2015.
Ms Parrott added: "The increased digitalistation that we are experiencing in all walks of life has made it easier to disseminate information to a wide audience and that is no different in the workplace. If you have a rogue employee they can inflict severe damage to your organisation very quickly."
The conference concluded with a mock employment tribunal, at which closing submissions were presented on behalf of the employer and employee before a final decision was issued by Peter Woodward, who served as convenor of Guernsey's Employment and Discrimination Tribunal for 17 years.
Pictured top: Advocate Elaine Gray.
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