A director of an Irish subsidiary of video game giant Electronic Arts has secured an injunction preventing his dismissal from his €160,000 post pending a full hearing of his High Court case.
Jean Philippe Grenet (56) is director of global delivery service for Electronic Arts Ireland (EAI) in Galway. He was initially dismissed in November for allegedly making an inappropriate comment in a one-to-one video call with a colleague in Texas in November. He denies telling Tracy Simmons he was not "going to pull my dick out and put it on the table to see who has the bigger dick". He says what he actually said was: "I don't want to compare the length of my dick." He accepts the remark was a clumsy, inelegant and ill-advised expression, but says it means he "did not want to challenge" that particular person on a work matter.
In a December 10th letter from the company, sent after he had got a temporary injunction preventing his dismissal, he was told it had withdrawn the decision of November 14th to terminate his employment but was again terminating his employment and giving him one month’s notice which he did not have to see out.
He argued the second termination was a “sham” and clearly related to the earlier decision to dismiss him. It was also claimed, inter alia, that Ms Simmons was actuated by malice and she had not been successful after expressing an interest in the role to which Mr Grenet was appointed. He sought orders continuing the injunction pending the outcome of his action against the company. The company, in opposing the injunction application, said it had withdrawn the initial decision to dismiss him and argued his employment was validly terminated on a no-fault basis in a decision it made on December 10th last.
In his judgment on Friday, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor granted the injunction. He was satisfied Mr Grenet had established a serious issue to be tried, and the injunction posed the least risk of injustice to the parties.
The injunction restrains EAI dismissing Mr Grenet pending the outcome of the case, requires that he be paid his salary and benefits during that period and prevents any other person being appointed to Mr Grenet’s position pending further order. Having made directions for the full hearing, the judge urged the sides to consider mediation.
In his decision, Mr Justice O’Connor stressed it involved no binding determination on the case. He was satisfied, on the evidence, Mr Grenet had not agreed his contract of employment could be terminated by anyone other than EAI in accordance with Irish company law. The claim that a director of EA had the ostensible authority to dismiss Mr Grenet was “unappealing to say the least” when one considered the obligations of the defendant’s board of directors.
The judge noted EAI had, in these proceedings, chosen not to dispute Mr Grenet’s accounts of the motivation and integrity of Ms Simmons, who had made the complaint against the plaintiff. Nor did EAI challenge the “unapologetic, unexplained and unilateral” withdrawal on December 10th last of its investigatory, disciplinary and appeal process accompanied by withdrawal of its decision to dismiss Mr Grenet on November 14th, he said.
The judge refused to stay his decision in the event of an appeal and adjourned the matter to next month.