Friday, 22 August 2014

Christian worker issues landlord with court threat

A former housing manager is planning to take his employers to court after they demoted him and slashed his pay for comments he made on a social networking site.

Adrian Smith, who has worked for Trafford Housing Trust and Trafford Council for 18 years, was demoted from a housing manager on a salary of £35,000 to a ‘money support advisor’ – rent collector - with a salary of £21,000, following an internal disciplinary hearing.

Mr Smith, a Christian, had posted comments on his Facebook site which said changes in law to allow gay marriages to take place in churches were ‘an equality too far’.

His comments were spotted and THT was informed and an investigation was launched.

He was subsequently disciplined but was not sacked as he had a good record at the Trust.

Mr Smith decided to take legal action against THT and was advised by lawyers to go to the Christian Institute – a charity ‘committed to upholding the truths of the bible’ – for financial support.

He accuses the 9,000-home landlord of breach of contract and breach of his human rights.

A spokesperson for the Christian Institute said: ‘Papers have been lodged with Manchester County Court and unless the housing association changes its decision we will go ahead.

‘We would hope that THT would take a fresh look at this before it reaches court. If they do not, we have the resources to take it all the way.’

THT said it updated its code of conduct for employees at the end of 2010 to include what use employees can make of social networking sites.

A spokesperson said: ‘Some three months after this new code was issued, Mr Smith, without our authority or knowledge and on a Facebook page that identified him as a manager at Trafford Housing Trust, made comments that were found, by a full disciplinary investigation in which he had Trade Union representation, to be in breach of the company’s code of conduct and other policies.  

‘Mr Smith was disciplined for his breach of company policy. The Trust made no comment about any personal beliefs that he holds. 

‘Mr Smith has commenced legal proceedings against the Trust and so it is not appropriate for us to make any comment on the circumstance of this particular case other than to say that the Trust will vigorously defend its position.’

Readers' comments (71)

  • Rick Campbell

    ‘committed to upholding the truths of the bible’ –

    You're having a laugh aren't you?

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  • Rick Campbell

    The Bible is a book.

    Mrs Beeton wrote a book.

    She said that no more than one-eight of income should be spent on rent or mortgage.

    What is truth in a book?

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  • Seems to me Mr Smith is a nasty-minded little bigot with a sizeable chip on his shoulder.

    We need people in the social housing sector who work for all parts of the community. Well done THT.

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  • F451

    Does that mean you object to people not being available to offer service during Friday Prayers Spellbinder?

    Christians are part of the community - indeed the members of the national faith - shouldn't the workplace therefore reflect this, or should only non-christian faiths be permitted their view, their observance and traditions?


    As Mr Smith is expressing the view from the same belief system led by our Queen, is she a nasty-minded little bigot too Spellbinder?

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  • Janine Jarvis

    If Jesus were alive now, I don't suppose He would be too worried about gay people getting married in church. He was, after all, in favour of love.

    In fact, I suspect He wouldn't really approve of churches in the first place. But that's another story.

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  • Rick Campbell

    It is interesting to read what Adam Smith wrote on facebook? ---

    “I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church. The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the state wants to offer civil marriage to the same sex then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience”.

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  • Rick Campbell

    My apologies, Adrian Smith, not Adam Smith -- getting a bit too Biblically confused in my tiny mind!

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  • Rick Campbell

    THT are quoted as saying --

    "At the end of 2010, we updated our Code of Conduct for Employees and provided it to all staff.

    "This version of the code clearly set out what use employees can make of social networking sites such as Facebook.

    "Some three months after this new code was issued, Mr Smith, without our authority or knowledge and on a Facebook page that identified him as a manager at Trafford Housing Trust, made comments that were found, by a full disciplinary investigation in which he had trade union representation, to be in breach of the company's code of conduct and other policies.

    "Mr Smith was disciplined for his breach of company policy. The trust made no comment about any personal beliefs that he holds."

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  • Kate Kane

    To paraphrase Mr Smith - "You shoudln't impose your rules on workplaces that serve the whole community", or am I missing the point. There are Equality & Diversity policies in place for a reson, to protect groups from victimisation in any form. THT has these and by identifying his employer alonside his own views, he clearly broke the code of trust with THT and frankly probably put a lot of people off THT by assuming that His views were shared by his employer. At no point does it seem to me anyway, that THT have trespassed against the State Church in anyway. I have a sneeking suspicion that most right headed Christians stand for love, peace and understanding towards all of us, irrespective of colour, class, creed or whatever, at least most of the one's I've met seem to. Remember, "whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto me". Be nice out there.

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  • Matt Murdock

    "The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. "

    'for' not between then? If that's what the bible says (being an atheist it's not a regular read for me) then there should be no grounds for objection?

    In terms of the disciplinary aspect, I too feel that views expressed in private or out of work shouldn't lead to disciplinary action but, as others have pointed out, don't rope your employer into it!

    As THT have pointed out, this is nothing to do with faith, it's about embroling them in views with which they disagree.

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