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Company director sacked over using word 'dick' in conversation with female colleague, court told

Aodhan O'Faolain

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Aodhan O'Faolain

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news@waterfordlive.ie

Company director sacked over using word 'dick' in conversation with female colleague, court told

A senior director with video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) was purportedly fired from his 160k a year job for allegedly telling a female colleague he was not "going to pull my dick out and put it on the table" next to another female colleague "to see who has the bigger dick".   

56-year-old Jean Philippe Grenet, who is the senior director of global delivery service for EA Ireland, denies making the comment in a one to one video conversation with a female colleague, who is based in Austin Texas, on November 9 last. 

In a sworn statement, he said what he actually said in the conversation was "I don't want to compare the length of my dick" with the colleague.

The court heard he accepts the remark was a clumsy, inelegant and ill-advised expression, but says it means he "did not want to challenge" that particular person on a work matter.  

He also claims that the person who made the complaint, a Ms Tracy Simmons, who is under him, is actuated by malice. 

He said she had not been successful when applying after expressing an interest in the role he was appointed to. 

He further claims that she exhibited a negative attitude towards him, had frequently undermined his authority as her manager and had interpersonal difficulties with other EA employees.

As a result of Ms Simmons' complaint, he was dismissed from his position.

He claims that decision by EA is flawed, was done in breach of fair procedures and in the absence of any proper investigative or disciplinary processes. 

At the High Court, Mr Grent's lawyers secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining his employer, which is based in Galway city, from dismissing him, or from appointing anyone else to his role with the company. 

The injunction, which was granted by Mr Justice Senan Allen on an ex parte basis, was made returnable to a date next week.  

Seeking the order Oisiin Quinn SC,  with Ray Ryan Bl instructed by MacSweeney and Co Solicitors, said that no proper or valid investigation of the claims against his client, for whom English is not their first language, has taken place.

Counsel said the allegations have been "twisted out of context" by someone who "wants to get rid" of his client. Counsel said the accounts of what was said at the meeting were different, although his client has admitted using the word "dick" in the conversation.

A few days after the complaint was made, Mr Grenet attended a brief meeting and was suspended from his role.

At a further meeting on November 14, he was informed his employment had been terminated for gross misconduct and that he had breached EA's Harassment and Equality Policy. 

Counsel said that Mr Grenet was not afforded fair procedures, and the process was run in a shambolic and utterly prejudicial manner.  

Counsel said that EA contends that he has admitted the wrongdoing and that it is entitled to terminate his employment. 

Counsel said that in correspondence EA has rejected that there were any flaws in the disciplinary process.  

His client is a married man with a young son who moved to Galway from France earlier this year. He was in charge of 420 people working for EA in Galway and a further 80 people in Texas. 

His client fears the impact the allegations and his purported dismissal will have on his reputation and his future.  He has a long career in the industry and has always conducted himself in a proper and honest manner.