During a disciplinary hearing, the employee admitted that he had breached company policy, but stated that he had done so in the “public interest” to demonstrate his concerns about health and Security.
In an official termination letter to Mr. Lord and viewed by the M.E.N., JD Sports stated that there had been “gross violations” of the GDPR and the company’s information disclosure policy.
The company said that in doing so, it “discredited the business and damaged the reputation of the business.”
The arbitrators did not admit that Mr. Lord acted as a public interest whistleblower because they “do not believe” that he feared for his health and safety, the letter said.
They also claimed that he had not raised his concerns internally with a manager and that he had published the photos with “the mentality of deliberately damaging the reputation of the company”.
In March, the Manchester Evening News received dozens of emails from workers who said it was “impossible” to maintain two-meter social distance rules inside the warehouse.
A petition calling for the distribution center to be closed during the lockout drew at least more than 2,000 signatures after people were put in danger.
JD Sports has always stated that the company has taken the necessary steps to ensure proper protection against coronaviruses and has repeatedly stated that the health and safety of their colleagues is their priority.
In the dismissal letter seen by the M.E.N. and signed by the Profit Protection Manager companies, JD Sports said they chose to fire Mr. Lord due to a number of breaches of contract that damaged the company’s reputation.
But speaking to Mr. E.N., Adam, who has worked for the company for three years, said, “Sharing these photos was only a last resort.
“The media pressured JD to follow government advice to shut down non-core businesses for three weeks.
“I came into work on the first day of closure and I just saw crowds of people gathering at the reception and inside the warehouse.
“I immediately felt that JD had done nothing to allay people’s fears. My own anxiety levels were through the roof. ”
Adam says the most painful part of the termination process was JD’s allegations that he acted maliciously.
“It’s the worst for me. Each meeting I have had has swept away the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic and focused on one person.
“There is no reason for me to cause trouble for JD. There has been no gain to me in speaking to the media with malicious intent. ”
Adam appealed JD’s decision to fire him and participated in an appeal hearing today (Friday, June 26). The decision will be published at a later date.
He says he would like to get his job back because he depends on his income, but thinks it would be difficult after his character was questioned.
Tony Clare of the Shopworkers Usdaw union represented Mr. Lord in the dismissal and appeal process.
He said, “The main reason Adam was fired was because JD felt he did not act for the sake of his health and safety, but that he acted maliciously.
“It is an absolutely perverse conclusion for me. I think every member of the public was concerned about his safety at the time.
“Anyone in a situation where social distancing was clearly not respected has the right to be concerned.
“The damage to reputation was not caused by these photos, but by the company that does not follow the guidelines correctly. This is a classic case of shooting at the messenger. ”
JD Sports said it would not comment on a worker’s case until after the appeal process is completed.
A spokesperson for the firm said, “It is not appropriate to comment because it concerns an ongoing disciplinary process, which has not yet been concluded. “