|Table of Contents |
The Ugly Truth Part 3
Page 1 – The Ugly Face of Revenge
Page 2 – The Day That Changed my Life
Page 2 – When It All Becomes Too Much
Page 3 – Shalom Tel Aviv
Page 4 – Great Customer Feedback
Page 5 – Cue Second Disciplinary
Page 6 – Outcome of the Investigation
Page 7 – The Last Page
The Ugly Truth Part 5 (TBA)
Cue Second Disciplinary
Seventeen days after receiving a private message from Jack regarding a comment I posted in a private chat room on Workplace, I received a call from Cabin Crew Manager Fred (not his real name).
The press flight to Tel Aviv I was rostered to work on was leaving the following day. He called me at 13:30 which was less than 24 hours before I was due to check-in.
During the conversation he told me senior manager xx had requested the matter be dealt with as a grievance and if upheld, I would receive a final written warning.
The grievance investigation meeting was arranged for 29th October 2019 at 09:30. My appeal meeting with senior manager xx regarding the grievance raised by Bart was being held that same day at 2pm. I told Fred I preferred to have both on the same day because I live a long way from the office.
Earlier that morning I had received a call from someone from the press office. They thought I was the operating Flight Manager and wanted to give me some information about the flight. I therefore know that at 10am that morning I was still part of the crew.
I believe at some point that morning Jack looked at the list of operating cabin crew. Having seen my name he decided he didn’t want me on the flight. To get me removed he reported what had taken place.
With regards to my use of the word “bloody”, I’m not someone who swears very often but “bloody” is a word I’ve always used. I don’t consider it to be swearing probably because of how I use it. For me it adds humour to something I’m saying. Bloody English weather, it’s freezing. My car’s such a bloody old banger.
How I use the word and how someone else reads it or perceives the sentence can understandably be very different. Especially when if they don’t know me.
During the disciplinary meeting (not the investigative meeting with Fred) I was questioned extensively about why I used the word “bloody”. The whole line of questioning was absurd. It should be remembered this was a small private chat group with less than fifty members all of whom were long serving managers in the company. With the exception of the two directors who had joined, I knew everyone and everyone knew me. This was a tongue-in-cheek comment, a bit of a banter that was a poor attempt at humour.
I’m a man in my 50’s who had been with this airline for 30 years and was now being questioned about my use of the word “bloody”. Would it have made any difference had I said “jews are such a fussy lot”? Was it the “bloody” that caused offence or the fact I was saying Jews are fussy?
It’s really important to keep this IN CONTEXT. This was banter, an attempt at humour, I wasn’t making a profound statement. It also wasn’t posted to the wider cabin crew community where anyone could have screenshot the post and shared it elsewhere. Every single person in the group was on the “Tel Aviv core crew” because they had volunteered to be part of it. Many others applied and were not successful. Everyone in the group wanted to make this route a success.
Take a look at the following screenshots;
This is from an article I read recently published by the Jewish Centre for Holocaust Education in Oregon. I had to retype the third paragraph because as a screenshot it was too wide for the parameters of this page.
Imagine if you removed the context of what she’s talking about and said, “I find it offensive because you said “the whole bloody Jewish race”.
The one thing that really troubles me is that Jack didn’t report the forum comment straight away. That tells me that having told him I was Jewish and apologised for any offence I may have caused, he considered the matter closed. Had we not been on a flight together a few weeks later I don’t think I would have heard another word about it.
Seventeen days later having become aware we were about to come face to face on the press flight the following day, he reported the incident to the Head of Cabin Crew. He would only have done that because he knew I would be removed from the flight.
Having stated this as part of my defence, it was never denied nor was I advised that Jack had actually reported the matter much earlier.
I believe he felt embarrassed for having addressed what was clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment/banter only to then discover I was Jewish. Many communities poke fun at their themselves, it’s not done to cause offence or to embarrass anyone.
I think he may also have realised I was the Flight Manager who took out the first flight to Tel Aviv. A flight that was a huge success, that received outstanding customer feedback and a great review from a blogger who he or his office had asked to be well looked after. The flight also received superb coverage by a news channel in Israel.
Had he still been upset with the comment after my apology, I think it’s safe to say he would have reported the incident immediately or at least within a few days. One thing that had been drummed into us for many years was issues that arise during a flight whether they be with customers or cabin crew, should always be “nipped in the bud” and dealt with at the earliest opportunity.
The following screenshot is one of the company’s brand values.
I can honestly say for the nineteen years I was a Flight Manager and probably for most of the eleven years before, I tried to uphold all the values mentioned above. What’s written here are not brand values of Virgin Atlantic, they’re brand values of being a decent and upstanding human being.
Throughout my time with the airline I was loyal, pragmatic and always tried to set an example for others to follow. I demonstrated empathy, integrity and maintained the highest level of respect for those with whom I worked. That is how I was brought up.
The way I was treated during my last twelve months by a small group of nasty vindictive cabin crew, at least two line managers, the head of cabin crew and even a director goes against everything I have ever aspired to achieve during my entire working life.
This brand value is not worth the paper it’s written on. As I’ve demonstrated throughout my blog and will continue to do so, those in positions of authority do not practice what they preach.
This next screenshot clearly shows the forum comment wasn’t reported any earlier than the day before the press flight to Tel Aviv;
The following photo was taken as I left home for the grievance meeting with crew manager Fred and the appeal meeting later that day with senior manager xx.
I want to include it to show what someone looks like who’s struggling with their mental health. Someone who on more than one occasion almost gave up. The airline for whom I worked for thirty years were fully aware of my situation yet were determined for allegations made by a vile and deceitful ex police officer to be upheld.
Having achieved that they continued to pursue me by raising a second grievance that was also upheld. They went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the matter was dealt with as a grievance when it could have been dealt with in a far more compassionate manner. Someone in this company wanted me out and were fully prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to achieve it.
Thankfully karma stepped in and they too were made redundant in response to Covid-19. That person spent fourteen years in the company during which time I dread to think how many lives they wrecked.
During my appeal meeting with that person I asked her whether she knew how many men of my age commit suicide because of depression. She confirmed she did. Less than two weeks earlier she had asked for a second grievance to commence against me and instructed it to be dealt with as a final written warning.
Strangely I didn’t put two and two together and even told my manager after the meeting that I was happy with how it went. Little did I know it was all a charade.
At the beginning of the appeal meeting senior manager xx even offered me her condolences for the loss of my dad. Just like the airline’s brand values, they were meaningless words.
The meeting with crew manager Fred that morning seemed to go well. It was a world away from the grievance investigation meeting with crew manager Lana in March. By the end of that meeting I felt worthless and if my nineteen years as an onboard manager stood for absolutely nothing, which of course they did.
The meeting lasted for about an hour during which time I answered plenty of questions. I explained what I wrote was a poor choice of words, that Jack had taken the comment completely the wrong way and that no malice was ever intended. I also said I would no longer be using Workplace and had closed my account. We then spoke briefly about Israel and I told crew manager Fred he should really go.
He was friendly, seemed to accept my apology and as I left the room I believed that would be the end of it. The union rep’ agreed the meeting had gone well.
Nine days later I received the following email;
If I didn’t make myself available for the meeting the next day I would have to wait a further eleven days to see what this was about.
During the meeting the following day Fred said after reading my post Jack had contacted I.T to ask them to delete it. It was then deleted by them a short while later. Therefore I could not have deleted it.
I told Fred I couldn’t explain that. This discussion went on for some time. He kept telling me the post had been deleted by I.T so I couldn’t have deleted it as I had stated.
Even in this modern age of technology things can and do still go wrong. It is of course possible that although I believed I deleted the post, it didn’t actually delete for whatever reason. This line of questioning had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the comment.
Very little of what I said during the first grievance raised by Bart had been believed. I was now facing exactly the same situation again.
It should be remembered soon after Jack messaged me I apologised and told him I would delete the post. Not being able to find it, I then remembered I had already deleted it.
Fred then started asking me why I didn’t remember what I’d written when I was initially asked about the post. This was madness, we’d already had a meeting where I’d been questioned thoroughly about my choice of words. The focus of attention had now changed and I was being interrogated about my claim that I’d deleted the post shortly after submitting it.
Jack had contacted me out of the blue four days after the post was made. Did Fred really think I had nothing more important on my mind that remembering the exact words I’d used in a casual post from four days earlier?
Fred then said had he been asked about something that took place “last year”, some things he would remember straight away. He continued, if someone said you posted something that was deemed to be offensive, he felt he would recall that.
He then said when asking someone else this question, if they believed they had deleted the post he would expect an answer along the lines of “I thought I deleted it, I’m so sorry”.
Here’s my response to Jack when he asked me to delete the post because he felt it was “totally inappropriate”, not offensive. Is inappropriate the same as offensive? I’m not sure.
The following screenshot comes from minutes taken during the second telephone grievance meeting with Fred.
The focus of this investigation was no longer about what I had written. I had taken full responsibility for my comment and had repeatedly apologised. It wasn’t enough. Fred wanted to prove I was lying about deleting the post.
I was furious towards the end of the call and didn’t hide it.
A day or so later I sent an email to Fred to say the following;
The following screenshot shows Fred’s determination to prove I was lying. Whether I was lying or not had absolutely nothing to do with investigating the complaint made by Jack.
The person in I.T said he deleted the post at approximately 17:02 which was a few hours after I replied to Jack. My initial reply was sent at 8pm.
The Employee Relations Consultant then asked who had viewed the post and when. It was of no relevance. There were 48 people in the entire group. What difference if one saw it or everyone saw it? Only one complaint had been received and that came from one of only two people in the room who didn’t know me.
Despite being a director with a keen interest in this new route, he made no effort to ask who I was or how long I’d been with the company. Had he spoken to one of the managers from the office who were part of the group, they would I’m certain have put the comment into perspective.
The fact I believed I had deleted the post but for whatever reason it didn’t delete was now being used to accuse me of lying. Having given more than half my working life to this company which included twenty years as an on-board manager, it was nice to know nothing I said was believed.
It was exactly the same with the first grievance and in that one I proved unequivocally Bart and his accomplices were lying. The company were so determined to uphold the grievance they wouldn’t even believe the professional opinion of a doctor of clinical psychology.
Take a look at the next two emails;
Fred was like a dog with a bone. He was determined for this grievance to be upheld, just like the previous two cabin crew managers were determined for the allegations of bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching to be upheld.
I believe there’s a pretty good chance he was told by his manager who was senior manager xx, to do everything possible to ensure the grievance was upheld. With that said, I’ve heard plenty of stories in the past about him being a bully. One such story came from my own partner. On his very first flight with the company Fred was the Flight Manager. He wasn’t treated particularly nicely and was told off and marked down on his performance assessment for forgetting to go back to a customer who had asked for a drink.
I.T were unable to confirm whether I attempted to delete the post or not. Therefore as crazy as it may sound, maybe I was telling the truth and I did delete it but for whatever reason, it didn’t delete.