The Investigation and Termination

TLDR – I don’t work at Microsoft anymore because I moved some cables from one place in the building to another ( something everyone on my team does and I’ve been doing for a decade ) + I did not understand gravity. Next I’ll work for Oracle

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Investigations

Back in April or may of this year three of my coworkers were let know they were under investigation for moving hardware from one location in the building to another. Basically they took three desktops from what appeared to be a PC recycle area and used the desktops as their work computers. Something I’ve been doing since starting work at MICROSOFT over a decade ago.

After their first round of interviews I was invited to be involved in the process because I’d taken a cable from tech link (where we go internally to get things fixed) and I’d taken a monitor issued to me for work purposes home from work to use at home for work. Both of these actions had been caught on camera after security reviewed footage from the building. They started looking at me because I went with the three coworkers when they took the desktops.  After seeing me with them security tracked all of my actions for 6 months. During those 6 months I’d also taken a surface docking station from a rubbish bin- Yes form a trash can.

The first investigator was flown in from London with her partner from global security investigations. She was flown in and interviewed my three coworkers once. Then flew back again to interview all of them again and me for the first time. She started the interview saying she was after the facts but her tone was more of a cop feeling I was guilty pushing for me to incriminate myself. Then after her “fact finding” she read to me what she felt I had violated in the employee manual. The section she read was already highlighted indicating she’d planned this part of the talk. She read it working to chastise for my actions she felt were wrong.

This started what was a long unoutlined process with little to no communication about progress. Many weeks after the second round she finally delivered a report to HR and Microsoft Legal. The report delivered accused all of us of gross misconduct which is punishable by up to immediate termination. This was back in June.

After the report was delivered nothing happened at all for weeks and weeks. Then about a month later Dublin decided they were going to do another interview conducted by local HR and a principal manager. No reason was supplied why the first interview and report meant nothing. Before The first Interview with the new group I responded back with a very long email addressing every line of the first report with a pile of pictures to support my views. Weeks After that interview we had another round of Interviews with the same group of people. I again responded to the request with more pictures and words.

Disciplinary hearing

After the second round of the second round of interviews we waited a few more weeks before the report was delivered and we were all “invited” to a disciplinary hearing to take place a week away. Great an entire week going to work not knowing if I’ll be fired or not at the hearing. In the middle of the week to top off the feeling of no safety and totally unknown future and depression I attended a funeral service to a close friend Les – not a happy time in life.

Before the invitation for the hearing I was waiting to hear if the hearing would happen or not. The waiting and every day feeling of going to work wondering if my badge would open the door or not was dragging on me hard. One of the days Michelle was gone on her vacation it all hit me hard and I felt over whelmed with depression and cried a bit without control at all. It was over whelming depression like I’d never felt before. Since then the depression has slowly lessened but never fully gone away it reminded of going to court over Trenton for over a decade.

The Gravity

Knowing that another human holds so much power over my future is not something I enjoy. It’s terrible. Only another week until we hopefully know the end result. If I am fired we have to move back to the states. The impact is massive. I don’t care so much about what it will take to find another job, but I don’t want to move home. We’re happy in Ireland.

The hearing finally happened and I was not capable of properly conducting myself in a manor the hearing people felt expressed I understood “gravity of the situation” – they used that phrase ” Kevin does not appear to feel remorse or understand the gravity of the situation” for that and a cable I was terminated after 9 years of working for Microsoft with nothing less than amazing reviews. Two of the others were given a warning and allowed to keep their job.

The Appeal

The termination process allows for an appeal of the termination. I appealed the termination on the grounds that I should not have been fired when others were not on the basis of my behavior in a 15 minute phone call after 5 months of torture from the long drawn out process. Coworker Wes was here visiting from the states and came with me to the appeal hearing.

The appeal hearing was with another group of HR and Managers and lasted about an hour. I held myself together enough to be extremely honest and open about what I had done and my understanding. I also demonstrated how difficult it was to obtain hardware in the group, and showed with pictures how the rest of my team has PC recycle hardware under their desks. Wes reminded me of the year we SHARED a laptop because our management would not get us new hardware. – Wes tells me I did well in the meeting time will tell.

Wes worked nights and I worked Swings meaning we’re not at work at the same time. We both needed new hardware and were. It given it, so we hot swapped a laptop to get our job done. The interviewer reacted to this one with a bit of shock – sweet he might understand – It’s now been 28 days since I filed the appeal, 22 days since the appeal hearing. In the process document for the appeal it says 10 days is how long it should take. Last week on about day 15 I received an email saying they would update me this week on the time line. No such email has been received.

A week more passed by and Microsoft missed the first, and then second dead line they set to deliver the results of my appeal. It’s been over a month since the appeal now. They finally responded indicated they did not appeal had merit.

On Nov 20, 2018, at 10:51, Joanne
wrote:
Hi Kevin
Apologies for the delay in coming back to you on the outcome of your recent appeal. The team have now concluded the appeal and based on their investigation have found not to uphold your appeal.

Thus concludes the story of my employment at Microsoft. Microsoft has been the core reason I’ve revived a paycheck since 1995. Next role will not involve Microsoft products. Going to a huge change but one I’m willing to make after the last six months this of torture.

New role – Oracle

Our ability to live in Ireland is contingent on me having a job in Ireland and that job being willing to sponsor us to live here. With that motivation I moved very quickly to obtain a new position. In the time since being fired I interviewed and accepted a position at Oracle in Dublin as a cloud engineer on their hosted cloud team. I will start there once the paper work has been completed.

Timeline of the process I Endured:

  • 5/30 – emp1, emp2 and emp2 were interviewed for moving desktops and a laptop around the building. I was in not involved in this interview loop, but I was on camera with them when they moved the desktops. At this point I started to fear what the outcome would be.
  • 6/11 – I was contacted by UK investigator stating I was being investigated and needed to be interviewed the following day on the 12th (this was for items removed April 1st, 2 months prior)
  • 6/12 – Interview with UK investigator. After this interview, I heard nothing at all. We waited for weeks with no clear understanding of whether something would come of it. Colin asked for updates and was given dates, that never happened.
  • 7/25 – After 6 weeks of no communication on the previous investigation or the investigation process, finally receive contact in the form of an email from HRrep1. The email included the first investigation report and informed me there would be further investigations by HRrep2 and Manager1. It was never explained to us why a second interview team was needed, we were only invited to have more interviews. We were all confused as to what the purpose of the first investigation was.
  • 7/27 – HRrep2 contacted me letting me there would be another investigation by her and Manager1
  • 8/19 – Responded to first OLC (Office of Legal Counsol) report with 19 pages, 2500 words, and 16 images explaining myself and supporting my thoughts. Please note none of the pictures appeared in the finalized report.
  • 8/20 – Another month goes by until my first Interview with HRrep2 and Manager1
  • 8/20 – Six weeks after the first interview with UK investigator, I was finally given the notes from that meeting, delivered via email from HRrep2
  • 8/23 – Notes for 8/20 meeting delivered to me via email from HRrep2
  • 8/28 – Email from HRrep2 asking to have a second meeting to continue the investigation on 9/4
  • 9/4 – Second interview with HRrep2 and Manager1. I took a printed copy of an email into the meeting and responded after the meeting with the printed copy attached to the meeting.
  • 9/19 –Three months after the initial interview and five months after the actual incident, I still hadn’t heard any updates as to where we were in the process. By this point, we had continued working in our normal roles. My boss had asked for updates and I sent HRrep2 the following email: “Hello HRrep2 — How are we coming on the report? I’ve put most everything in life on hold not sure if I get to keep the job and continue to live in Ireland or not pending report and what happens from it. Is not fun living in limbo.” To which I received no response.
  • 9/21 – Contacted by HRrep3 about being invited to a disciplinary hearing on October 2
  • 9/23 – I emailed asking to clarify if the hearing about be the end or if there would be more waiting.
  • 9/26 – HRrep3 responded indicating they should be able to deliver an outcome by 10/5 – At this point I cracked feeling totally shattered as if the process would never end. I’d told my family to hold off on planning our Winter holidays and to stop buying anything but the essentials months ago. On this day I reinforced those words, how could I not we had no clue if tomorrow might mean having to think about moving back to the US or not.
  • 10/3 – I was contacted by HRrep3 to tell me the outcome of the hearing would be delivered Friday 10/5
  • 10/5 – Six months after the incident and four months after the initial interview, it all ended in a phone call with HRrep3 and My boss’s boss’s boss where I was told my employment was terminated. I was too shocked to voice any sort of reply or rebuttal at that time and for several days after.
  • 10/11 – I filed an appeal to my termination. The appeal process is suposed to take 10 days.
  • 10/15 – HRrep4 responded back letting me she was sorry for the delay and an appeal hearing would be setup shortly
  • 10/16 – HRrep5 invited me to an appeal hearing the next day with her and Manager3
  • 10/17 – Wes accomplanied me to the appeal hearing for emotional support. I was much better prepared, and the video confrencing worked with Manager3 in the states. Being we were already 6 days into the appeal process I expected to hear back in a week or less
  • 10/26 – I emailed HRrep5 asking how I can view my pay slips as my last pay check was a good deal smaller then I expected it to be. 10 hours after I emailed HRrep5 got back to me and let me know I would need to contact payroll for that. Then she added a by the way I know it should only take 10 days, but we need more time. We will get back to you next week with an update time line
  • 11/8 – I emailed HRrep5 basicly saying “WTF it’s been over three weeks since the hearing
  • 11/9 – HRrep5 responded back to me letting me know I can expect an outcome by November 16th. There are 36 days between 10/11 and 11/16 in a 10 day process.
  • 11/16 – HRrep5 made an excuse about needing to work during American hours to finish the report and said I’d probably hear Monday
  • 11/19 – I heard nothing from Microsoft
  • 11/20 – Microsoft finally responds letting me know the appeal would not be upheld.

Some of the Images from my appeal

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Rubbish bin I took docking station 5 months later – notice the white box on shelf
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Close up of white box on shelf – Docking station marked for recycling showing what I found is common
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Box in a hallway I took the second cable from
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Inside the box – looks like recycling to me in a common area
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The cable I took from Tech link was left over stock from new monitors. I submitted this photo showing what it looked like
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Example of the cable I took from PC recycle, notice no SKU or bar code indicating it was not paid for

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