Printing His Own Settlement

, , , , , , , | Working | November 30, 2019

I am employed as a technical engineer which, in my company, means building components on the computer and sending the instructions to an automated machine in the next building and occasionally walking between the office and machine shop to check the progress and make adjustments as needed. I have 20 years’ experience and am basically at the top of the pay scale.

Due to the amount of automation my job now entails, I have gained downtime in the day. Not liking to be idle, I tend to fill the time; I will refill the coffee, top up printers with paper, and do general IT support, and I have started training a few of the apprentices. None of these are official responsibilities but it beats sitting on my hands.

My husband and I — both men — decide to take a long holiday. I book the time in advance, schedule some upcoming tasks on the machines to run without me, divert my emails to one of the other engineers, set my work phone to divert to the main switchboard, and set off on holiday.

It’s important to note that while my work has my personal phone number, I have explained that this will be turned off as we will be travelling across Norway and will be pretty much out of contact.

Just over a week into the holiday, we book into a hotel and are told by the receptionist that there have been multiple messages asking for me to turn on my mobile. This is strange, as I didn’t share our itinerary with anyone apart from my husband’s sister. I turn on my phone and it instantly starts lighting up with missed calls, texts, and voicemails. My boss is getting progressively angrier and more aggressive, asking me to call back, but never explaining the urgency.

Thinking there must be some emergency, I call my work. My boss explodes down the phone at me demanding that I return from holiday, accusing me of sabotaging the company, threatening legal action. I finally get him to calm down enough to work out the problem; the printer has stopped printing. A bit of troubleshooting later, and it turns out the printer has run out of paper. I talk him through refilling the machine and he is all happy again.

Fast forward a week, and I am called into a meeting with my boss. He lays out how completely unprofessional I am to cripple the company like that and I’m told that I am being fired effective immediately. I take him to tribunal for unfair dismissal, and at the mediation stage between his lawyers and the union lawyers, I come prepared.

As well as over 60 texts, 40 phone calls, and 30 voicemails, he had called every hotel in the towns he knew we would be visiting. The union lawyers are claiming harassment, stalking, and unfair dismissal based on sexuality. His lawyers are obviously a bit shocked by this, so I play them one of the voicemails where my former boss screams down the phone, “You will regret this! This is what I get for hiring you, you f****** [gay slur]! Just wait; you’re dead! Dead!

His lawyers pale, and in the end, I walk away with a settlement for more than two years’ wages. I walk into a new job a month later after finishing a second holiday to some parts of Norway we wanted to see previously.

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