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Disciplined for something I did not do

Published 29 May 2018

On the wrong end of a slip-up in the disciplinary process

When Ally was dismissed after being injured in an accident at work it really was a case of adding insult to injury.

Ally was working in a food warehouse for a national high street store when he slipped on a spillage and hurt his knee.

He suffered knee ligament damage that was devastating for Ally, a keen fitness fanatic.

The accident was witnessed by two colleagues who provided slightly differing versions of what occurred. The witness accounts contradicted some of what Ally had told his manager about the accident. There was no CCTV footage available from inside the warehouse.

The company decided to launch a disciplinary investigation. Ally was invited to attend an investigation meeting at which he was accused of lying and exaggerating in order to make a personal injury claim. Ally was furious and denied the allegation.

He was left distressed and shocked when he was informed that he was suspended from work. Ally said his manager advised him to resign as he ‘wouldn’t get away with it.’

Ally was later invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of deliberately misleading his manager, which led to a breach of trust and confidence in his honesty over an alleged accident at work.

He was not informed of his statutory right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a colleague at the disciplinary the hearing.

In his six years working for the company Ally had an exemplary disciplinary record and had not previously been in this position, so had no idea what to expect. However, the day before the hearing he was informed by a colleague that he could take someone into the meeting with him.

When Ally turned up at the hearing he asked if he could have someone with him. He said he was told ‘…that as you are here now and we’ve only got a few questions for you, you may as well get on with it.’

Ally went ahead on his own, vehemently denied the allegation, but was dismissed after the hearing.

Ally contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help as he felt that the decision to dismiss him was unfair.

Our representative discussed the case with Ally and she wrote an appeal letter on his behalf. An employee also has a statutory right to be accompanied at a formal disciplinary appeal hearing.

Prior to an appeal hearing our representative will always ask an employee what their desired outcome is in order so that they can work to help them achieve it.

In this case Ally was quite clear about what he wanted. He did not want to return to work for the company and he wanted to reach a settlement agreement with it, which would allow him to move on.

At the appeal hearing our representative argued that the decision to sack Ally amounted to an unfair dismissal. She highlighted a number of points to demonstrate the decision was unfair.

This included Ally being denied his statutory right to representation at the disciplinary hearing; medical evidence to show the injury was genuine; and pointing out that although there were inconsistencies in the statements taken weeks apart, this was to be expected given the human memory if fallible, key facts about the accident were consistent.

After a period of discussion and negotiation a settlement was agreed. This included a five-figure financial payment to Ally, the dismissal being removed from his record and a guarantee of a standard reference. In return he agreed not to disclose details of the settlement or pursue a personal injury claim.

Ally made a full recovery from his injury and used the money from the settlement agreement to help set himself up as a personal trainer, which he always wanted to do.

 

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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