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I worked at Stirling University from May 1997 until I was dismissed in June 2010. I was employed in Information Services as an Oracle Database Administrator (DBA). Around 2005, I began to notice that I was being bullied by my manager, Kathy McCabe (KM), but I now realise that I was being unfairly treated long before then. In December 2006, I arranged a meeting with Kathy to discuss the ill treatment. I made it clear that I wanted it to stop. However, the bullying continued, and in May 2008, I raised an informal grievance following 5 weeks sick leave I had to take due to stress caused by her bullying and dishonesty.

We were offered and we accepted the services of an external mediator. However, on the day of mediation, Kathy refused to follow the procedure for which the mediator had prepared us. She announced that she had written to the University complaining I had my arms folded during a team meeting; that I lean back in my chair, and that I "grunt" when I say Good Morning to her. The bullying continued, and I raised a formal grievance against her. A new Director of IS, Mark Toole (MT) was appointed, and he persuaded me to revert back to the informal stage to allow him an opportunity to resolve the problem. Still the bullying continued, and I was left with no alternative but to go formal again. The final straw came when Kathy sent an email to my team in which she attempted to publicly humiliate me by inferring that I must be stupid to expect her to be able to read minds, and that I am also a liar, when in fact I had irrefutable proof that it was she who was lying. Months earlier during a meeting with Mark Toole, she had agreed that in future, criticism should be delivered privately and should be evidence based. However, acting in that manner would have deprived her of the buzz she receives from bullying.

Kathy raised a formal grievance against me, claiming that it was me who was the bully. It was nonsense aimed to provide a smokescreen. Bully Online recognises this to be a tactic of the bully, and that it is tantamount to being an admission of guilt. Lo and behold, my grievance was dismissed, and Kathy's was upheld. The person that Mark chose to chair the hearing was Eileen Schofield (ES) who was working very closely on a project with Kathy at the time.

Part of my grievance was that Kathy did not protect me from ill treatment that I received from team colleagues, and in my six page grievance statement I included examples of that ill treatment. Kathy had already acknowledged, both in writing and in the presence of Mark Toole and Karen Stark (KS), that my colleagues had ill treated me and that she had taken no action on it. However, when interviewed at the grievance hearing, Kathy was not asked to respond to my allegations of bullying, and she was not asked why she did not act on ill treatment from my colleagues. Instead Eileen Schofield announced that they would carry out an investigation which would involve interviewing my colleagues.

My union representative asked that the process be transparent and that I should have the opportunity to respond to any statements made by colleagues. He stated that as I was the victim of scapegoating, it was likely that statements from colleagues would be partisan. However I wasn't even allowed to see what my colleagues had said. (After the decision was made, I requested and received copies of the witness statements.) Also I wrote to say that I did not feel it was necessary that my colleagues be interviewed as my grievance was not against them, but Kathy's failure to deal with their ill treatment of me. I said it would only create bad feelings within the team. I also highlighted Kathy's inconsistency by failing to deal with an incident where I had been physically assaulted by a colleague, yet complaining to management about me having my arms folded during a team meeting. She said that she considers arm folding to be aggressive. She and every other team member folds their arms during team meetings, but I am the only one she complains about.

When she was interviewed, Kathy claimed that my grievance was riddled with inaccuracies, and gave her own version of the facts. However, these were indesputible facts that could easily have been checked out by Eilen Schofield and Karen Stark. Indeed I was able to check them out myself by contacting HR. Kathy's statement was riddled with lies, including a lie which was to replace a previous lie which she seemed to be abandoning because I had produced evidence to demonstrate it was a lie, but then strangely she repeated the original lie as well.

A few colleagues and former colleagues were interviewed, and those who had ill treated me denied it, even though Kathy had already admitted that it had taken place, and much of it had happened in the presence of several witnesses. This led to my colleagues making false complaints against me that I bully them. A Disciplinary Hearing was held, and lo and behold, I was dismissed. None of the complaints against me had come to light until the investigation took place.

It was obvious from evidence I produced that my colleagues were lying and had colluded, but Mark Toole said he saw no evidence of this. It was obvious that he was being dishonest too. Oddly, it was those colleagues for whom I had done most that were complaining about me. They are all women, and the common theme from their statements is that I am alleged to have a problem with women. UF went as far as to state that I only get on well with two out of 11 women in the team. The truth is that UF had recently cooked me a meal (and several colleagues knew about it), and had invited me to be her friend on Facebook. She had also confided in me that she was upset by Eileen MacDonald's behaviour towards her, and that she didn't want Eileen to be her line manager anymore. She and Karen Eccleson had both referred to me as creepy, yet she had discussed with me and then emailed me a story about a man with his penis stuck in a pipe. She had also brought up the subject of oral sex with me, and then sent me, and only me, an email containing two animated files showing cartoon characters having oral sex, with the message "Just for you Allan, lol". She has also made a number of references to her breasts to me in a non medical manner, and shown me a photograph that her ex-boyfriend had taken of her coming out of the shower with just a towel in front of her. I've definitely never shown any colleagues any photos of me coming out of the shower, because that would be creepy! She made other bizarre claims that were obviously untrue in an attempt to create this false image of me. What she and the others didn't understand is that lying convincingly is not all that easy, especially when you don't know in advance that you intend to lie. Kathy who I consider to be highly intelligent didn't seem to understand this either. And Mark Toole doesn't seem to realise it either.

My appeal against the grievance decision was heard and dismissed by Kevin Clarke (KC). My union rep described it as "really quite outrageous" and "extremely disturbing". He had been confident that the decision would be overturned because of the enormous flaws in the procedure.

Naturally I intend to defend myself vigorously against these allegations, and I intend to use this blog to publish the evidence that was ignored during the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures. I'm sure any reasonable person will be able to see that I am inncocent, and that management has behaved dishonestly in order to protect the bullies and to victimise me because I raised a grievance against my bullying manager. I believe it is in the public's interest that I make this information available.

It also leaves current and future employees who find themselves being bullied with a dilemma. The Uni recommends that individuals take action to stop the bullying. I did precisely that, and now find myself unemployed as a result, and I had the support of my union (UCU) which many employees don't. My representative during the Disciplinary process was DS from the UCU head office. She proved to be an exceptionally talented individual, but nothing was going to stop Mark Toole from dismissing me, even though he was fully aware that I was innoccent and that the complaints were bogus.

After each hearing, the common tactic from each chairperson is to produce a report with a phrase like "I see no evidence to support his case". What they avoid doing, however, is to refer to the evidence I have submitted and state WHY it doesn't support my case. So for example, the University's Bullying policy states that public humiliation is an example of bullying. I submitted my manager's email to my team in which she infers that I'm stupid to expect her to read minds, and that in order to attend a conference, I should ask. She goes on to falsely claim that I've never asked, and thus infers that I'm lying about my claims that I had in fact asked. I also submit my emails I'd sent her asking to attend, as well as her written acknowledgements of my requests to attend. I definitely felt humiliated, but Eileen Schofield simply ignores this and all other evidence in her report. Therefore anybody reading the report on its own could be excused for thinking that it is reasonable to dismiss my claims. They may even think that I'm a nasty, malicious person to have made up complaints without any evidence.

Similarly, at the disciplinary hearing, I responded to a statement made by UF. She claims that for 4 years she avoided any contact with me because she says I have a problem with women, that I see women as vulnerable, that I made one woman's life a misery, and that I give her the creeps. She goes on to say that I had recently added her as a friend on Facebook, and so she deleted me. She had tried to give the impression that I had somehow added her as a friend without her permission which is impossible. She had invited me to be her friend, but that didn't fit with the story she was trying to tell. Mark Toole knows this as he is a big fan of Social Networking. He didn't dispute it at the hearing. However, when he wrote his report, he just says that he can see no evidence to support my claim that she had been dishonest. What he fails to do is to give a believable explanation for this glaring inconsistency, and all of the other glaring inconsistencies. For example, she had recently cooked me a meal. If he genuinely felt that I was being dishonest, he should give examples. I am sure he would have, had there been any.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm at SU (in an academic post), and am mortified by what I have read here. I know that others in the IT service have had similar/equally bad experiences (e.g. the team in Pathfoot that Mark Toole sacked last year). Ever since arriving at SU a few years ago I've felt the IT dept. was dysfunctional - now I know why.

Between them I think that Toole, Kevin Clarke and Eileen Schofield are a total liability for the university, and it gives me serious concern that they continue to spread their malevolent influence across all departments.

I worry about the future of the institution as a whole, I have to say. And all this certainly puts my contact with IT staff in a new light when I have queries about things that I need done!

Anyway, I wish you well with your attempts to seek redress, and hope that new and better opportunities come your way.