'Rude & difficult' | Firm was entitled to withdraw job offer from would-be worker during onboarding process

Firm was entitled to withdraw job offer from would-be worker during onboarding process

A firm was within its rights to withdraw a job offer from a “rude and difficult” would-be worker during the onboarding process, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Mr S Lasdas (the claimant) unsuccessfully sued law firm Keoghs LLP (the respondent) for race discrimination and victimisation, after the offer of a fixed term IT role was pulled.

Lasdas was reportedly “rude, uncooperative, aggressive” and “patronising” during an onboarding meeting, leading the firm to decide Lasdas would no longer be brought into the firm.

Lasdas claimed he was treated less favourably because of his nationality, and that he had been “pressed…unreasonably about evidence of his right to live and work in the UK”.

However, an employment judge rejected the claims, instead ruling that the job offer was withdrawn because the candidate’s behaviour “did not align with the respondent’s values.”

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The tribunal heard evidence that Keoghs has a set of values which drive 2decision-making, attitudes, behaviours and working practices."  Three of the values listed at the hearing were:

  • We listen, are down-to-earth and supportive

  • We work together towards a common goal

  • We’re friendly with a can-do attitude

According to the tribunal, Liza Hill, a talent acquisition business partner for Keoghs, had asked Lasdas to send various pages from his passport for ID checks, but that he was “reluctant to send her the signature page as he was worried about fraud”.

Lasdas was also required to send additional proof of his right to work in the UK, though the tribunal heard he “did not think he needed to” as he had already provided a ‘right to work code’ and a DBS certificate.

According to the tribunal: “LH [Liza Hill] reassured the candidate that this a legal requirement and it was Keoghs company process and policy as Keoghs are a law firm and are governed by the SRA [Solicitors Regulation Authority] and as a legal company Keoghs have to gather these documents.”

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The employment tribunal found that Keoghs later agreed that all that was needed for the Right to work check was the share code, which Lasdas had already provided.

Lasdas “was not happy about giving a copy of the page with his signature on and seemed agitated and at this point was being rude,” the hearing found.

He also asked if he could use his own laptop “as one of the things that HMRC look for to determine whether a contractor should be paid ‘outside of IR35’ is whether or not the contractor uses their own equipment.”

This request was rejected because “all staff at the Respondent had to use the Respondent’s laptops and no one was permitted to use their own, the Respondent had contractors using the Respondent’s laptops and they still considered them to be ‘outside IR35’.”

The tribunal found that Lasdas grew “frustrated with the responses of Ms Hill”.

“He did not agree that she needed extra pages of his passport for any of the checks, he had provided the Right to Work share code, he could have obtained a DBS check himself in a matter of hours rather than waiting for the Respondent to do it and he did not see why he had to use the Respondent’s laptop when he had a previous job where he could access sensitive information from his own laptop” the hearing was told.

Ms Hill gave evidence that the way Lasdas spoke to her was “rude, uncooperative, aggressive, high-handed and patronising.”

After the difficult onboarding meeting, Ms Hill contacted Reed - the recruitment agency that had sourced Lasdas as a candidate - to explain that the candidate was not happy with what was being asked of him and that his behaviour was rude, and aggressive and Keoghs had therefore decided to withdraw the offer.

It was noted “The candidate’s behaviour was inappropriate, argumentative, rude and aggressive and he questioned everything that LH said.

“It was deemed by the hiring manager that his behaviour was inappropriate and did not align with the behaviours of Keoghs values and that she therefore wanted to withdraw the offer.”

Dismissing Lasdas’ claim, Judge Burge said: “The tribunal concludes that the reason why the claimant’s job offer was withdrawn was because the claimant was rude, speaking over Ms Hill, refusing to show his passport and because he did not agree to using the respondent’s laptop. His behaviour did not align with the respondent’s values.”

The judge also noted that, during the online tribunal hearing itself, Lasdas “repeatedly interrupted and spoke over the tribunal, counsel for the respondent and witnesses to the extent that the tribunal repeatedly had to caution and then mute the claimant so that a fair trial was possible”.

The judge concluded: “The tribunal did consider whether the claimant’s demeanour at this hearing meant that he had necessarily behaved as described by Ms Hill but concluded that while it was an indicator that he was capable of speaking in a domineering way, it was important to remember that he was representing himself, felt strongly about his claim and we concluded that more important evidence was Ms Hill’s contemporaneous evidence describing the conversation and the feedback given to the recruitment agency.”

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