homeless after an explicit Facebook rant
November 1, 2018
School caretaker is sacked and left homeless after an explicit Facebook rant
Brian Barker, 55, was forced to move out of his home, owned by Hymers College in Hull, where he had lived rent-free for 18 years
Brian Barker admits he made an error of judgement (Image: HullLive)
A college caretaker who was sacked over a Facebook rant calling management "heartless, uncaring t***s" feels he shouldn't have lost his job.
Brian Barker admits he made a mistake when he went on a tirade against bosses after "a couple of whiskies".
The 55-year-old, who had worked in maintenance at Hymers College in Hull for 28 years, deleted the post within a day but the school became aware of it and sacked him for gross misconduct in July this year.
Mr Barker was forced to move out of the rent-free house within school grounds he had been living in for 18 years, he told Hull Live.
A Hymers College spokesman said the Facebook post was "highly abusive" and it was a "totally unacceptable act" by a staff member.
Mr Barker said he wrote the post criticising college management following discussions over the restructuring of the maintenance department and the resignation of a close colleague.
He said he lost his home on school grounds and had to give up a car he had bought the year before because he could not afford the monthly payments on it.
Mr Barker thinks the college should have given him a second chance (Image: HullLive)
The west Hull man said: "I got the house with the job but I lost the house and they left me with nothing. I wasn't allowed to say goodbye and they didn't want me anywhere near the place after 28 years.
"Last year I bought a brand new car which I have never done before but I had to get rid of it and I lost about £10,000 on it.
"My wife and I are still having to rent because we are not in a position to buy at the moment because we can't get a mortgage as I've got no income.
"It has significantly affected us and my greatest irritation is how it ended. I had a plan after leaving the school which I was partially on the way to doing but that has all gone by the wayside."
Mr Barker, whose children grew up in the three-bedroom lodge he was allowed to live in rent-free, said he was unhappy about the school's plans to alter his patterns and line of work.
He said he raised concerns about how the team would operate under the new regime and was concerned about alleged plans that would require him to take holidays during the half-term breaks and the summer holidays.
Mr Barker said: "We had always been allowed to have holidays during term time which makes sense because we are maintenance.
"To do maintenance work when the school is full of pupils and teachers is hard and the best time to do it is when they are not there."
Mr Barker had worked at Hymers College in Hull for 28 years (Image: HullLive)
His frustrations came to a head in May 2018 after the resignation of a colleague. He also claims the school were trying to "force him out" and that the changes being proposed were contributing to his stress.
He went on Facebook and called the management team "heartless, uncaring t***s" in what he admits was an error of judgement after "a couple of whiskies."
However, he feels the school should have recognised the circumstances he was under and should not have fired him after so many years for one error of judgement.
He said: "I am very strong and principled in general and if I think something is out of order I have to speak out. Even after 28 years I felt the school could have recognised there were extenuating circumstances but instead they just finished me."
Mr Barker said he did a lot of unpaid overtime during his time at the school and went the extra mile during the 2007 floods by staying overnight to ensure the pumps in the swimming pool didn't go underwater.
He appealed to the school's governors about his dismissal but the decision was upheld and Mr Barker said he was disappointed not to be given extra time to find a home after being given the boot.
The school asked him to vacate the property by August 24 as it felt it was not appropriate for him to continue living there at the start of a new school year.
Mr Barker, who has since set up his own maintenance business, said: "I wanted to stay until the end of September so I could get myself sorted but they wouldn't allow that so I had to move into rented accommodation because it was just too short notice to find anything. It was hard because I wanted to stay there until I retired and I thought that was going to be the plan."
The school said informal discussions about working arrangements for Mr Barker and other members of the maintenance team were initiated in September 2017 after Mr Barker raised a number of points about how the team operated.
These discussions became more formal in January 2018 and Hymers College says it was committed to agreeing working arrangements with the maintenance team that allowed a good work-life balance for staff.
The school says staff were never placed under undue pressure and that Mr Barker's Facebook post happened when discussions about working patterns and restructuring were still ongoing.
A spokesman for Hymers College said: "Brian Barker's dismissal for gross misconduct was due entirely to his highly abusive social media post.
"It had nothing at all to do with the continuing discussions with him and his colleagues in the maintenance team about their working arrangements.
"The Facebook post was clearly a totally unacceptable act by a member of staff. It was seen by both present and former members of staff and other members of the Hymers College community, so it was not a private act.
"At all times we have been committed to agreeing new working arrangements acceptable to Hymers College and the members of maintenance team.
"If Brian had not posted the regrettable social media message we're sure he would still be employed by the school."