Thursday, October 29, 2020

Big old law firm Webber Wentzel backed down on defamation

The letter that silenced Henley Africa and Webber Wentzel.

Hi Nadia

I was expecting you!

1.      Congratulations on representing Henley!

2.      Points 2.1 -2.4 Thank you, great summary!

However, between 2.4 and 2.5 there’s no mention of the questions Henley tried to dismiss on the original advert. 

The Henley dismissal failed, this resulted in drawing public attention to their draconian take on democratic fairness and their perceived role of authority in society.

It is this loathing to act when the public expresses dissatisfaction that resulted in the expressions of dismay at your clients conduct in the public domain. If Henley wishes to limit public outcry they must act timeously and respectfully. 

Henley may not enjoy views expressed, but these views were expressed as a result of Henley’s marginalisation of job applicants right to information.  

3.      I dispute that views and questions Henley objects to can be dismissed as ‘defamatory’. 

I’m confused about what specific statements your client regards as defamatory.  

Statements and questions listed in points 2.5.1.1 -2.5.3.2, does Henley consider all of these to be defamatory? 

Please ask Jon to be specific so we may respond more specifically to, and in detail, justify any Henley deemed  ‘defamatory statements.’

We note questions directed at Henley are listed. Are you suggesting the public has no right to question an organisation operating in the public domain? Recruitment is a public process and the public has an interest in how Henley conducts itself and obstructs a fair flow of information in the labour market. Does Henley consider the obstruction of information as fair play or is Henley upset that members of the public have shown Henley to be unfair players in the labour market?

In terms of basis for fact, it’s called peer reviewed research and public submissions. 

Since the Dean and perhaps the entire Henley professional body isn’t aware of research, we are forced to question Henley’s credentials and conduct.

Attached are 10 examples of studies for Jon and his beleaguered team to discover further ‘sensible ideas’ and can offer others. Shall we?

Besides, if nothing stated was based on fact, please can Henley explain what compelled them to concede that pay should be included in all adverts going forwards? Was this perceived as a concession, not as a move in the direction of legitimate, fair practice?

If we remove posts, we believe Henley will forget the lesson and compromise what they term a ‘sensible idea’ as if there’s no intellectual or moral evidence to support that it’s far more than a ‘sensible idea.’

The language used to reflect your client’s virtue and conviction is casual, more concrete actions are required for us to believe they are committed to a ‘sensible idea’.

4.      “The disclosure of pay scales in recruitment advertisements is not a legislative requirement’ this statement is concerning and precisely why we refuse to remove content.

Your client shows a lack of moral conviction that cannot be trusted.

Does Henley believe pay secrecy in job adverts is Constitutionally fair or are you implying  that Henley fears no consequences as a result of legislation that does not specifically tell Jon, ‘Recruitment adverts must be fair for job applicants and employers, this means no use of information asymmetry to disadvantage applicants wage negotiations and creation of better economic opportunities’?

Are we correct in assuming that Jon finds ‘fairness’ as enshrined in the Constitution, difficult to understand from an applicants’ perspective?

It is this draconian perception of power over the labour market by employers that is reminiscent of apartheid style leaders. Jon appears to arrogantly assume the world must comply with his view of himself. If Jon believes he can defend his position as a democratic man, we welcome the opportunity for a public debate.

Like many whites during apartheid, perhaps Jon remains morally and intellectually paralysed by his ignorance.

5.       The Constitution says everybody is entitled to fair labour practice, how is the Henley market signal (the job advert) fair when it excludes pay information from prospective candidates?

When Henley is unfair, how are they ethical? What’s ethical about the use of information asymmetry? Does Henley assume that because they believe it’s fair, it must be fair? When you refer to Henley’s lawfulness, how does the Constitution back their labour market superiority up?

Whites believed apartheid was fair, Jon believes actions allowing inequality to penetrate the employment experience is fair. Much research exists on pay ambiguity in market signals, is Jon aware? It is this ignorance that continues to raise concerns.

Apartheid was lawful yet it was wrong, does Jon imply he would blindly follow apartheid today if it was a law?

Inequality is not a law, yet it exists. Legislation against racism and sexism exists, yet income inequality data shows that black women are paid less than others. Does racism therefore exist or not exist in the labour market? If racism can be both covert and overt, how exactly is it that black women wind up with less pay? Following your assertions regarding reality, laws and conduct, is the existence of inequality justified?

6.      While I acknowledged your client’s casual statement on social media, they failed to alert us to the new advert, why?

What did they assume from us with the statement ‘as you can see’? Does Jon believe it’s our responsibility to check up on him and keep him on track?

7.      You have stated Henley is willing to ‘consider policies’ yet their own comment is meant to imply that job advert transparency is a given going forwards. Which is it please? Are they considering or are they ready to make a press statement confirming their position?

8.       We cannot agree to removing content on the basis of your clients claim they are ‘happy to consider’ fair conduct – we require more than a claim of happiness.

As you correctly state at the beginning, we are running a campaign, this campaign highlights the unfair wage negotiation process started during recruitment. The persuasive communication that resulted in Henley’s change of heart, if indeed there was a real commitment to change, this serves as reminder and lesson to others. Indeed, it is part of Henley’s journey towards being virtuous leaders. They have the opportunity to create new news and celebrate this ‘change of heart’ with the public. When will they do this?

9.      It’s not our responsibility to monitor Henley, they must let the public know they have listened and adapted their conduct accordingly. The market will let us know if they are deceptive. If they wish to use this as an opportunity to redeem themselves as fair employers, PaySlipBanSA would be happy to support an event where they make an official statement and add to what could be a champion’s narrative.

10.   We request that Henley signs our petition and makes a comment affirming their stance. https://www.change.org/p/making-wage-negotiations-really-fair

11.   As this case is about the use of information asymmetry, we reserve the right to publish about this case study. The Henley story, if real, is a conversion story and directly as a result of the PaySlipBanSA Campaign. We are most happy to write positively about Henley if they can publicly and officially show their commitment to always placing job adverts that include pay.

12.   There is no confidentiality in our communication. We therefor reserve the right to publish your communication as it’s in the public interest.

13.   Why are we here? 

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Leonie Hall
Convention Challenger + Policy Protagonist + Guerrilla Strategist

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