Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Fail to punctuate, win six grand

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Last week, a former project manager at Aberdeen City Council was awarded damages after a tribunal agreed that he had been unfairly dismissed.

David Moxey was employed to encourage participation in sport amongst youths in the Granite City, which presumably meant hanging around outside chip shops trying to get fat ginger kids called Hamish to go fishing.

However, things began to go awry when he was paired to work with a lady by the name of Maureen McMahon. McMahon, claimed Moxey, slandered him behind his back (the best way), communicated only by email despite the two sharing an office, and best of all, taking offence at Moxey’s lackadaisical approach to spelling and grammar, took a red pen to a report he had written. It was, said Moxey, “like having an essay corrected by an English teacher”.

After a protracted absence having been signed off with depression, Moxey resigned. The tribunal agreed that left with no other option but to leave, he had effectively been constructively dismissed.

Moxey was awarded £6,333 in damages, though that was a reduced amount as the tribunal found him 10% to blame for not initiating disciplinary action himself (incidentally, this idea of putting percentages on blame is particularly fantastic: I’d say I was about 23% culpable for the burning of last night’s tea given that our oven has been particularly erratic of late, while in their failure to run at him brandishing pitchforks, the British public are 76% guilty for the career of Chris Moyles).

Obviously, this raises many questions: Were the tribunal correct in their decision?; Why didn’t he seek help before the situation got out of hand and he ended up with the horror show that is depression?; Wasn’t Moxey that Scouse bloke out of 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’?

Most of all though, in her correction of his work, did McMahon go too far? In short, was her spelling and grammar militancy over the top?

Emphatically, no. McMahon was entirely justified here, and in any case, from my own experience as a pedant I know she was not entirely responsible for her actions. I find it impossible to leave anything uncorrected, to eschew the erroneous. I will mutter under my breath about unclosed brackets on a worksheet until I become so fixated I miss the entire content of a course I have been sent on.

This is not some righteous quest; we did not choose to be this way. We have no leader or God, no deep set moral compass, merely a constant and impulsive urge to scratch every itch (and not itch every scratch) we see.

Maureen McMahon, you are a courageous defender of the faith, and GrammarBlog salutes you.

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Blogger Gez said...

"I know she was not entirely responsible for her actions."

I think she was 47% responsible for her actions.

I admire her chutzpah, Moxey was, after all, her boss. What a wuss he is, by the way, "Waaaa, I'm depressed because my assistant corrects my reports!"

I'm not making light of depression in general, just his.

31 July 2007 at 12:03  
Blogger Gez said...

I've just read the article - this guy is a right joker. I wouldn't dream of suggesting, in our esteemed present company, that public sector workers in Scotland should have fewer employment rights but this guy takes the piss!

I'm so mad, I'm going to write a list. Here it comes:

1) He didn't attempt to discipline her himself which as her boss was his resposibility - not the council's.
2) He started looking for a new job, then he claimed sick leave for depression.
3) Presumably he was upbeat enough to go job hunting while on the sick.
4) He only resigned once he had found a job at a yacht club in Malaysia.
5) After resigning, he sued for unfair dismissal - he resigned!
6) The most ludicrous part of this whole sorry saga is the fact he won his case.

31 July 2007 at 17:57  
Blogger Gez said...

It appears our friends at SPOGG also found this article - apparently it's transatlantic grammar news.

31 July 2007 at 18:03  

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