Simon Negus, a partner and general manager at Microsoft’s UK was dismissed in September 2010 and is now chief operating officer of Upstream Systems.
Microsoft themselves launched a claim against Negus in April seeking to reclaim holiday pay and part of his signing on bonus.
The whole dispute started at Microsoft’s annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2009.
Negus, a UK board member, was alleged to have been seen kissing a female colleague in full view of other attendees, Microsoft said in a court filing.
Negus denied the ‘kissing incident’ had taken place, but further evidence came to light suggesting it had, and he was dismissed for dishonesty.
Microsoft’s disciplinary panel found Negus had “behaved dishonestly, and thereby acted in a manner calculated or likely to destroy trust and confidence between him and Microsoft.”
So, it was not the kissing that was the problem for Microsoft. It was lying about the kissing that caused Negus to be dismissed.
It is a serious business to dismiss a senior staff member over this incident. I suspect that there was more to this story in the background that never came out.
I suspect that Microsoft wanted Negus out for other reasons and the lying about the kissing thing was the convenient vehicle to remove him.
Employers need to be very careful that their intentions are transparent.
While in most organisations ‘lying’ is classified as serious misconduct, the circumstances of this incident could easily be regarded as irrelevant to the conduct of Simon Negus in his normal day to day work.