Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@. Skimlinks & other affiliated links are turned on

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • Euclid
    • By Euclid 25th Feb 17, 2:40 PM
    • 15Posts
    • 1Thanks
    Euclid
    Employment Tribunal - unfair dismissal - student surveys
    • #1
    • 25th Feb 17, 2:40 PM
    Employment Tribunal - unfair dismissal - student surveys 25th Feb 17 at 2:40 PM
    Hi everyone!
    I was an university lecturer. I have been summary dismissed for "deceitfully manipulating students' feedback on my modules". Those are online surveys where students submit opinion on your teaching a certain subject (module). The "proof" was very technical and questionable so I am not going into details. I refuted it during the investigation, disciplinary hearing and appeal. Nevertheless, the employment law allows employers to make decision on the base of "reasonable belief" and "probability". Just to point out - I have not done it. Those surveys are completely irrelevant to my career and duties; my surveys are usually very good and way above the average; I had no motive whatsoever on top of this.
    I filed a claim at Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal on the base of: "not taking into account mitigating circumstances and consequences for future employee career" and "the action is not within the scope of reasonable responses for such a deed". The Tribunal does not look at the cases in essence, so I can only object the dismissal not clear my name. I have had more than 25 years of spotless career and service and this dismissal terminates my career in the academia as no-one would hire a dismissed person.

    I need some help in the following: has anyone heard that a teacher/lecturer was ever dismissed for falsifying students' surveys? Could you direct me to some specific facts/cases?
    I can't afford a lawyer and have to mainly look at everything by myself.
    To whomever of my colleagues I mention this reason people were just telling me this is a laughable reason - those surveys does not count for anything (let aside I haven't done it).

    Please help.
Page 3
    • jobbingmusician
    • By jobbingmusician 18th Mar 17, 9:57 PM
    • 18,408 Posts
    • 18,604 Thanks
    jobbingmusician
    It is acceptable for a small organisation to appoint an investigating officer who is involved in the disciplinary, so I fear this is a weak point. (Yes, I know colleges are fairly large, but employers don't find it difficult to argue their business case.)

    HR are there to advise the employer. You may be making a good point, but I think you are over-stating the importance of a previous court case. (If you are stating that HR had prejudged your guilt before any hearing, and you can demonstrate this, that is of course different.) Otherwise your case simply boils down to whether a reasonable employer would have a reasonable belief that you were guilty. If your employer ignored evidence about faulty software, that is your case.
    I'm the Board Guide on the Matched Betting; Referrers and Jobseeking & Training boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge posts there. Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.

    The good folk of the matched betting board are now (I hope!) supporting Macmillan, in memory of Fifigrace. Visit
    https://www.gofundme.com/running-the-leeds-10k-for-macmillan
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 19th Mar 17, 1:25 AM
    • 37,346 Posts
    • 33,674 Thanks
    Savvy_Sue
    (unfortunately when teaching I inadvertently type my password in the username field so it was visible to more than 200 students).
    Originally posted by Euclid
    PLEASE tell me you then changed your password at the next possible opportunity?
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 2 baby jumpers, 1 shawl, 2 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure ...
    Current projects: 1 shawl, 1 baby jumper
    • Euclid
    • By Euclid 19th Mar 17, 2:44 AM
    • 15 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Euclid
    I did immediately I got to the office (only from there I can change the passwd) but soon I repeated the same mistake. When I have only 5 min to start the PC and upload the presentation I am in a great hurry and often do this mistake.
    • JustToClarify
    • By JustToClarify 19th Mar 17, 6:25 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    JustToClarify
    1. An employer does not need to follow their own disciplinary procedures - as long as there was 'an investigation' and 'a disciplinary hearing' and 'an appeal hearing' they will tick all the required boxes to satisfy a tribunal.

    2. An employer does not need to investigate the issue for which you were dismissed - as long as 'an investigation' of some form was carried out, that will be enough to tick the 'investigation box' and satisfy the tribunal

    3. An employer does not need reasonable grounds for a belief - they only need to state they 'believe' something and the judge will take that as fact without any supporting evidence from them, even if you have evidence to the contrary.

    As someone who has been through the employment tribunal farce I can tell you that how things should be done on paper is not how they are done for real.
    • FBaby
    • By FBaby 19th Mar 17, 6:51 AM
    • 15,335 Posts
    • 38,485 Thanks
    FBaby
    So if it was accepted that it was a software issue, didn't the same problem happened with other teachers/survey? That's the part I don't understand. Surely, they have checked this and the problem only affected you? If so, why would that be.

    Also, to be fair, even if you can defend this, it sounds like they could use you failure to secure your personal detail/access to your PC as another gross misconduct as I'm sure there must be a policy to that regards, so if the whole matter is about getting rid of you, there would have something else to use anyway.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 19th Mar 17, 11:42 AM
    • 3,035 Posts
    • 4,931 Thanks
    sangie595
    Really OP, you have had a great deal of very good advice here, but you aren't listening to it. I seriously don't know if you can win a tribunal, but unless you listen to what you are being told, I can tell you that you will lose one!

    You are pinning a great deal of reliance on two matters - the fact that you are good at what you do, and an entirely convoluted alternative scenario that will simply make the tribunal question your veracity even more.

    On the first one, you may be the best in your field. You may have personal references from world famous people. And former students. Not one of those things means that you are telling the truth or that you are not a cheat. Being good or well connected does not mean that you are above reproach. Plenty of "good" and well connected people have been caught out before now. Your argument on these grounds is less than relevant - it is not going to help you at all, and frankly, the employer did the right thing in disregarding it - it wasn't of any import.

    On the second, as you have already been told, the tribunal do not hear your side of the story, then the employees, and decide which one they like better. They listen to the employers side of the story, and decide whether that is enough to form a reasonable belief. So the employers story is easy. It depends on only two things. A series of student evaluations were falsified, and the IP address from which they were falsified belonged to you. That's it. That's all they needed. There is no way on earth that they are going to going to find that an unreasonable basis for believing you did it. You see, the test isn't whether it was true or not. You could now find absolute evidence - a signed confession by the perpetrator would be nice - and you will STILL lose the tribunal, because the employer heard a case and had a reasonable belief at the time of the decision. There have been more than one claim lost in that way - subsequent evidence that some one want guilty does not supersede the employers decision at the time.

    But consider your story. An anonymous person happens to have identified your password details somehow. They have then been able to exploit some kind of back door in the software being used. Then they have identified your IP address and somehow "pinged" it just to know when to falsify these results. And your unknown and very skilled enemy then gave you GOOD evaluations??? How likely does that sound? If you inserted a Martian invasion somewhere in the middle of that it could not sound less credible. If they had been lousy evaluations the story would have still seemed far fetched, but at least there would be a kind of internal sense to it. That's the sort of thing you might expect of an aggrieved student or colleague. But not for some faceless enemy to give you good outcomes. Again, the thing is not whether it is true or not. The point is, can anyone reasonably be expected to believe this? Sorry, but the answer is no. And if toy unfold this alternative scenario to a tribunal, that is exactly what they will think too. You are making your version less crucible, not more credible. And any evidence that you find now to support that version was not available to the employer, so their reasonable belief and fair dismissal stay in place. The tribunal can't base a judgement on new evidence that the employer didn't have.

    So that only leaves you procedural matters - was the prices carried out directly. They employer want required to tell you that you were under investigation before they are ready to. So the fact that your are being investigated for a month and a half without being told is irrelevant. The alleged bias of the investigating officer is not evidenced in any way. The fact upon which the investigation depends is evidenced. It is true. Evaluations were falsified, and from an IP address associated with you. There is no room for bias or opinion in that. It is either true or not, and even you accept it is true. So the investigation appears to have been impartial. Whether the person likes you or not doesn't matter, and your allegation that they don't like you doesn't mean that it is true either. It is for you to evidence your defence, with your union. Not for them to go investigating what appear to be fabulous versions of events. So they present the outcome of their investigation, you provide a defence, and a disciplinary panel decide.

    So is there any part of the process that wasn't conducted properly, because I'm not seeing it? And to be clear, this is not about whether I believe you or not - it simply is what it is. If you can't find a better case than what you have, you are throwing good money away. And more of your reputation. At this stage, yes, you will have to provide a convincing argument for why someone should employ you after this dismissal. But that can be done. And you have some powerful references you say. Great. They will help. Will LOSING a court case help? No, it won't. You will have a court of law deciding that your employer was correct. And your former employer telling people that. Academia is a very small world. News gets around.

    So you need to sit down and seriously, and objectively, think through your position and how far you can take this before it becomes even more damaging to you. Or you need a better case, because the one you have here isn't good. People are trying to tell you that. But you aren't hearing it.
    • Euclid
    • By Euclid 19th Mar 17, 11:45 AM
    • 15 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Euclid
    To FBaby:
    I wanted that all the surveys be checked but they refuse doing as "too much work".
    Failure to secure my psswd cannot count as gross misconduct.
    There is nothing else they can think of against me - as I said, I had spotless record; student love me, I have long and outstanding career.

    And it is not "if accepted" - IT IS a software problem - I created a trial survey and it results in the same flawed results.
    Last edited by Euclid; 19-03-2017 at 11:58 AM. Reason: not clear to whom I am responding
    • Euclid
    • By Euclid 19th Mar 17, 12:00 PM
    • 15 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Euclid
    Really OP, you have had a great deal of very good advice here, but you aren't listening to it. I seriously don't know if you can win a tribunal, but unless you listen to what you are being told, I can tell you that you will lose one!

    You are pinning a great deal of reliance on two matters - the fact that you are good at what you do, and an entirely convoluted alternative scenario that will simply make the tribunal question your veracity even more.

    On the first one, you may be the best in your field. You may have personal references from world famous people. And former students. Not one of those things means that you are telling the truth or that you are not a cheat. Being good or well connected does not mean that you are above reproach. Plenty of "good" and well connected people have been caught out before now. Your argument on these grounds is less than relevant - it is not going to help you at all, and frankly, the employer did the right thing in disregarding it - it wasn't of any import.

    On the second, as you have already been told, the tribunal do not hear your side of the story, then the employees, and decide which one they like better. They listen to the employers side of the story, and decide whether that is enough to form a reasonable belief. So the employers story is easy. It depends on only two things. A series of student evaluations were falsified, and the IP address from which they were falsified belonged to you. That's it. That's all they needed. There is no way on earth that they are going to going to find that an unreasonable basis for believing you did it. You see, the test isn't whether it was true or not. You could now find absolute evidence - a signed confession by the perpetrator would be nice - and you will STILL lose the tribunal, because the employer heard a case and had a reasonable belief at the time of the decision. There have been more than one claim lost in that way - subsequent evidence that some one want guilty does not supersede the employers decision at the time.

    But consider your story. An anonymous person happens to have identified your password details somehow. They have then been able to exploit some kind of back door in the software being used. Then they have identified your IP address and somehow "pinged" it just to know when to falsify these results. And your unknown and very skilled enemy then gave you GOOD evaluations??? How likely does that sound? If you inserted a Martian invasion somewhere in the middle of that it could not sound less credible. If they had been lousy evaluations the story would have still seemed far fetched, but at least there would be a kind of internal sense to it. That's the sort of thing you might expect of an aggrieved student or colleague. But not for some faceless enemy to give you good outcomes. Again, the thing is not whether it is true or not. The point is, can anyone reasonably be expected to believe this? Sorry, but the answer is no. And if toy unfold this alternative scenario to a tribunal, that is exactly what they will think too. You are making your version less crucible, not more credible. And any evidence that you find now to support that version was not available to the employer, so their reasonable belief and fair dismissal stay in place. The tribunal can't base a judgement on new evidence that the employer didn't have.

    So that only leaves you procedural matters - was the prices carried out directly. They employer want required to tell you that you were under investigation before they are ready to. So the fact that your are being investigated for a month and a half without being told is irrelevant. The alleged bias of the investigating officer is not evidenced in any way. The fact upon which the investigation depends is evidenced. It is true. Evaluations were falsified, and from an IP address associated with you. There is no room for bias or opinion in that. It is either true or not, and even you accept it is true. So the investigation appears to have been impartial. Whether the person likes you or not doesn't matter, and your allegation that they don't like you doesn't mean that it is true either. It is for you to evidence your defence, with your union. Not for them to go investigating what appear to be fabulous versions of events. So they present the outcome of their investigation, you provide a defence, and a disciplinary panel decide.

    So is there any part of the process that wasn't conducted properly, because I'm not seeing it? And to be clear, this is not about whether I believe you or not - it simply is what it is. If you can't find a better case than what you have, you are throwing good money away. And more of your reputation. At this stage, yes, you will have to provide a convincing argument for why someone should employ you after this dismissal. But that can be done. And you have some powerful references you say. Great. They will help. Will LOSING a court case help? No, it won't. You will have a court of law deciding that your employer was correct. And your former employer telling people that. Academia is a very small world. News gets around.

    So you need to sit down and seriously, and objectively, think through your position and how far you can take this before it becomes even more damaging to you. Or you need a better case, because the one you have here isn't good. People are trying to tell you that. But you aren't hearing it.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    Ok - in short - what you say is my only argument could be: "you will have to provide a convincing argument for why someone should employ you after this dismissal".
    Do you have any other suggestions?
    • FBaby
    • By FBaby 19th Mar 17, 12:18 PM
    • 15,335 Posts
    • 38,485 Thanks
    FBaby
    Failure to secure my psswd cannot count as gross misconduct.
    Are you sure of that? Universities holds intellectual property. I am amazed that giving a total stranger access to the whole system wouldn't be seen as gross misconduct. You might never had read the policy, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    As always, very detailed response from sangie who knows it all better than any of us.
    • FBaby
    • By FBaby 19th Mar 17, 12:25 PM
    • 15,335 Posts
    • 38,485 Thanks
    FBaby
    A perfect example just randomly googled University of Brighton's data protection policy:
    https://staff.brighton.ac.uk/reg/acs/docs/2016-17_Student_Contract_Data-Protection-Policy.pdf

    Page 14, point 2.2 storage of information:
    password should be kept secret and secure – change them regularly
    I expect this is the same for all unis, with something on your contract to say that you are expected to adhere to all employer's policies, so this alone could indeed have been deemed gross misconduct if it meant that someone could access personal data. Surely you've been trained to that regard?
    • Casey1709
    • By Casey1709 19th Mar 17, 12:57 PM
    • 138 Posts
    • 210 Thanks
    Casey1709

    .......
    Failure to secure my psswd cannot count as gross misconduct.
    .....:
    Originally posted by Euclid
    For an IT lecturer that's a pretty poor standard of work.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 19th Mar 17, 1:22 PM
    • 3,035 Posts
    • 4,931 Thanks
    sangie595
    Ok - in short - what you say is my only argument could be: "you will have to provide a convincing argument for why someone should employ you after this dismissal".
    Do you have any other suggestions?
    Originally posted by Euclid
    No. I said that nothing you have outlined here constitutes a winning case, and if you are going to go down the route of a tribunal you need something more credible than you have presented.

    For someone that would argue they come from a scientific/logical discipline, you do not seem to be approaching this in that manner. There are laws here, just as there are in sciences. Those laws have been explained to you in great detail by three pages worth of posters. Yet you continue to believe those laws will apply otherwise to you. That is not logical.

    If you cannot come up with a persuasive case then you will not win the tribunal, and losing the tribunal could do even more damage. What are your options at that point are up to you to decide. But fighting a case that you cannot evidence simply for the sake of fighting is not going to prove you innocent of these offences.
    • emsywoo123
    • By emsywoo123 19th Mar 17, 1:23 PM
    • 4,948 Posts
    • 9,576 Thanks
    emsywoo123
    Are you sure of that? Universities holds intellectual property. I am amazed that giving a total stranger access to the whole system wouldn't be seen as gross misconduct. You might never had read the policy, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    As always, very detailed response from sangie who knows it all better than any of us.
    Originally posted by FBaby
    I really wanted to sympathise with the OP, until I read the bit about repeatedly revealing his (oh I have assumed there! ?her) password.

    Lecturing spaces are fully booked all the time at my place of work, I fully appreciate the need to be speedy, and I accept (just/possibly) that it might happen once.

    Without a doubt, as a repeat offence, it would be GM where I work. No question.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 19th Mar 17, 1:29 PM
    • 3,035 Posts
    • 4,931 Thanks
    sangie595
    To FBaby:
    Failure to secure my psswd cannot count as gross misconduct.
    .
    Originally posted by Euclid
    Of course it can. And often is.

    And it is not "if accepted" - IT IS a software problem - I created a trial survey and it results in the same flawed results.
    Originally posted by Euclid
    But the issue is not "flawed results" - it is that someone using your IP address entered false evaluations. That isn't a software flaw. That is fraud/ falsification or whatever. A flaw is the programme giving you the wrong results from correctly entered data. You got the right results from falsified data. Not at all the same thing. What are you teaching your students?
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

2,596Posts Today

7,646Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • The strange thing with a 4yr old is having to play & smile while inside feeling sick for those in trauma in my birth town #Manchester

  • Just a quick ta-ta for now. I'm taking the week off for family time with mini and Mrs MSE. So I won't be here much. Back after the bank hol

  • Ugh another one trying it! Beware https://t.co/Ab9fCRA76F

  • Follow Martin