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No paper trail

Gollop takes issue with KPMG’s handling of worker dismissal

An international firm has been chastised for what has been described as a “lack of documentation,” in the first ever case being heard by the Employment Rights Tribunal.

Accounting firm KPMG got this tongue lashing from the tribunal’s chairman, Hal Gollop, QC, during the second day of hearing in the case brought against the firm by former employee Joel Leacock.

Leacock, a former business advisor in Transactions and Restructuring who was dismissed on September 20, 2013, is arguing that he was unfairly dismissed.

Former Business Advisor in Transactions and Restructuring of KPMG Joel Leacock.

Former Business Advisor in Transactions and Restructuring of KPMG Joel Leacock.

He and his attorney Jewel Garner are asking that he either be reinstated or re-engaged.

Attorney for Joel Leacock, Jewel Warner (right) having some words with Niketh Smithen of the legal firm Carrington and Sealy, representatives for KPMG.

Attorney for Joel Leacock, Jewel Warner (right) having some words with Niketh Smithen of the legal firm Carrington and Sealy, representatives for KPMG.

Gollop made the comments while speaking to the first witness, Leacock’s former performance manager, Christopher Brome, this afternoon in the auditorium of the Labour department, Warrens Office Complex, St Michael.

While being examined by KPMG’s attorney Sherica Mohammed-Cumberbatch, Brome – who is now a partner of the firm – recalled that during a meeting with Leacock and another manager Andrew Stone, the former had become aggressive, raised his voice and acted unprofessionally.

He said Leacock had also been very obstinate during several other meetings.

However, after Gollop asked Brome if he had studied the Employments Right Act, to which he replied “not in detail,” the chairman further questioned Brome as to if there had been any documentation of Leacock’s behaviour.

Brome responded by saying there had only been verbal communication.

tribunal’s chairman, Hal Gollop, QC

Tribunal’s chairman, Hal Gollop, QC

After encouraging him to read the Act, Gollop said: “If this was documented you would have something which would say specifically what happened . . . but I do not expect that [from] a company as prestigious as KPMG, and as meticulous in keeping its records . . . it is a business firm, it is an accounting firm, it is a management firm, which deals with minutiae.

“I would be very surprised that you would not have a system where every step of the way a paper-trail is kept, especially for something as important as the employment record. Especially when that record reflects misconduct.

“I think you would admit to me, you’ve practically already have, that it could have been a mistake that these warnings were not documented,” Gollop added.

He did however acknowledge that Brome had been a “witness of candor and very professional”.

During today’s proceedings, the tribunal – which also comprises Ed Bushell and Beverley Beckles – heard that after his first year with the company between 2011 and 2012, Leacock had performed creditably and had been given a promotion from Business Advisor 2 to Business Advisor 1.

However, after being promoted, Brome said Leacock’s work performance had been sub-par, and continued to be, despite having several meetings with him.

He said emotions finally boiled over during a meeting which was held on September 20, 2013, when Leacock got aggressive during discussions regarding his appraisal, which led to him storming out of the meeting before it was completed.

He was fired later that day.

During cross-examination by Garner, Brome admitted while he had been satisfied with Leacock’s work during his first year, the quality of his work had dropped during the following year.

Earlier, while being cross-examined by Mohammed-Cumberbatch, Leacock had denied being involved in a heated argument with Brome and Stone, as well as leaving before the meeting was over.

Leacock said his main issues had arisen due to comments by managers which had been made about his performance, as well as the marks given to him regarding his end of year rating.

He said because of this he refused to sign the performance review document.

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