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Sales manager nicknamed 'Tan FM' claimed he was bullied and harassed

Sales manager claimed he was bullied and harassed at work after he was nicknamed ‘Tan FM’ because he talked so much that he was like a radio station

  • Tan Afsar, an executive at a large biotechnology company, was a chatty boss
  • It earned him the nickname ‘Tan FM’ as he was said to be like a radio show
  • But when he found out he was offended and resigned from  Biogen Idec Ltd
  • He launched legal proceedings against them but they were dismissed 

A senior sales manager was so talkative his colleagues nicknamed him ‘Tan FM’ because he was like a radio show, an employment tribunal heard.

Tan Afsar, an executive at a large biotechnology company, was described as having an ‘ability to chat and entertain’ for long periods of time.

The specialist medical salesman was so chatty fellow staff described him as being ‘like an entertaining radio show’, a hearing was told.

However, after he was nicknamed ‘Tan FM’ when he chatted for the duration of a 250 mile care journey with a colleague, Mr Afsar said he felt ‘offended’.

Mr Afsar later resigned from Biogen Idec Ltd but launched legal proceedings against the international firm, claiming he was ‘bullied’ and ‘harassed’.

But, his claims were dismissed by a judge at the tribunal.

The hearing in Reading, Berks, heard Mr Afsar worked for Biogen Idec for around eight years,

He was a senior area business manager based in the East of England, worked on a product treating MS, and was ‘very knowledgeable’ and experienced’.

The tribunal heard that on a journey back from a conference in Scotland in May 2017, one colleague messaged the work WhatsApp group and used the nickname when asking a co worker called Libby Winchurch how the trip was going.

Mr Afsar later resigned from Biogen Idec Ltd but launched legal proceedings against the firm

A tribunal report said: ‘The message said ‘how’s Tan FM going Libby?’ It had a radio emoji and a ‘winking face’ emoji.

‘[Libby] Winchurch replied saying ‘we have not stopped talking for the last 250 miles!!!’.

‘The phrase ‘Tan FM’ had come up at a meeting a couple of weeks before the conference. It was used by a colleague who was a close friend of Mr Afsar.

‘As a regional sales team, Mr Afsar and his colleagues spent a lot of time travelling between meetings and often shared journeys or called each other to chat while travelling.

‘I accept Ms Winchurch’s evidence that the phrase was intended to convey Mr Afsar’s ability to chat and entertain while on a long journey, like an entertaining radio show.

‘Mr Afsar was included in the discussion on May 17, 2017, as he was part of the WhatsApp group.

‘He did not make any comment at the time, probably because he was driving. However, he was offended by the term and spoke about this to the colleague who had used it first.

‘Mr Afsar’s colleague immediately responded to say that he would stop using it and would tell the team not to use it again.’

Later, at a work training course, Mr Afsar was nominated as ‘keeper of the charter’ and he was referred to by colleagues by its acronym – ‘KOC’.

He complained that he was offended ‘because when said out loud it sounded like he was being called a ‘cock’.’

Mr Afsar made allegations of bullying by Biogen Idec – but Employment Judge Emma Hawksworth dismissed his constructive unfair dismissal claim as he didn’t formally raise the ‘Tan FM’ or ‘KOC’ remarks to his managers.

He also alleged he was treated unfairly due to alleged lack of support but the judge again dismissed these claims. 

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