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.’