Firm's internal inquiry into claims of rudeness may proceed

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

MOBILE PHONE technology company Adaptive has been awarded the costs of an unsuccessful High Court attempt by a senior vice-president of the firm for an injunction stopping an allegedly potentially biased inquiry into allegations that she was rude and unprofessional to two customers.

Kathryn Smyth had sought the order to apply pending the outcome of her full court action over the inquiry, but Mr Justice Roderick Murphy refused her application, clearing the way for the investigation to proceed. The company was also awarded the costs of the injunction hearing, but a stay applies on that costs order pending the full action.

Ms Smith, operations vice-president of Adaptive Mobile Security Ltd, had asked the court to restrain Adaptive and its chief executive, Brian Collins, from carrying out the investigation. She also sought orders preventing her suspension and directing she be allowed perform her duties without interference.

The court heard that Ms Smith was suspended on July 26th last and was told by Mr Collins that he would conduct an inquiry into complaints that she had been rude and had displayed an unprofessional attitude while dealing with two customers based in the US.

Ms Smith denied the allegations as “without foundation” and claimed they warranted neither suspension nor investigation. She alleged the proposed inquiry would be biased against her on grounds including a bad relationship between herself and Mr Collins since his arrival in the company in 2009.

The defendants argued that they were entitled to suspend Ms Smith and alleged she was seeking to prevent a fact-finding investigation arising out of complaints from two customers. Her suspension was not a disciplinary measure imposed as the result of alleged wrongdoing but a temporary measure while inquiries were being carried out, they said.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Murphy said he was satisfied from the evidence before him that, based on the service agreement under which Ms Smith was employed, the company was entitled to suspend her. From the evidence, he was satisfied any disciplinary hearing that might or might not arise from the investigation would be conducted by the company’s non-executive director and would have a degree of independence.