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Employee sacked over obscene passwords begins lawsuit

An employee sacked for using inappropriate passwords today began a legal case to dispute his dismissal by major cake and biscuit producer Spongegroup plc.

Gary Gibson of Gloucester, who worked in the company’s finance department, was relieved of his duties two weeks ago after the company IT department uncovered the use of the offending passwords on corporate software packages. It is understood that a series of passwords used for the various applications used were derogatory in nature towards both the organisation and fellow employees. It is alleged that company management who, made aware of the passwords after they were intercepted by the organisation’s computers, took the decision to relieve Gibson of his duties as they were deemed to be indicative of a bad attitude towards the company and working in general.

“Super-sweary” passwords

In court today, mild hilarity broke out in the viewing gallery as company lawyers described “super-sweary” passwords, which included “workisfuckingshite1”, “gettingthroughw0rkisharderthangettingpastafatmanwearingabag” and “petesmithisafuckingspanner”. Smith, the subject of the third offending password, was Gibson’s supervisor.

The proliferation of the case and its take up by the media will no doubt be a source of great embarrassment to the company, who had initially sought to keep the real reason for the sacking quiet. A cover story used by the organisation involving sacking Gibson for poor performance was compromised when an unknown leak from the company highlighted to Gibson the actual reason for the dismissal.

Corporate Witch Hunt

That the company went covertly attempted to systematically oust Gibson by rigging working conditions and surreptitiously deleting files, among other things, is another case factor highlighted by Gibson’s legal team today.

I ordered a jam sandwich,” a forlorn Gibson said earlier in a highly charged cross-examination, “but [the sandwich turned out to be] well past its sell buy date”. Mr Gibson also told the court of how, amongst other things, he was excluded from team meetings, and arrived at work on one occasion to find that the wheels on his luxury reclining leather seat had been removed.

Above: The jam was far from fresh, alleges Gibson

Mr Gibson’s lawyers also allege that they hold medical evidence that proves he was drugged with ketamine hydrochloride, a drug also associated with date rape incidents. The substance, most likely placed into Gibson’s morning cup of tea, resulted in him falling asleep at his desk; another reason cited by Spongegroup for the dismissal. The company forcefully denied this was the case when questioned by journalists outside the courtroom.

A landmark case that could prove influential in setting future precedents, the affair brings into question the level of confidentiality of workers, and the dismissal is seen by human rights organisations as being indicative of the level of intrusion seen in many of today’s workplaces.

The case continues…