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Case Studies

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A painful disciplinary process with a pain free ending.

Published 09 June 2021

We all know right from wrong and often you don’t need to be an expert to identify when you are being treated unfairly at work. 

Dental receptionist Farah had concerns about her manager for quite a while before she contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre. 

The final straw came when Farah was informed her working hours were going to be cut.  

Farah was presented with a document and told to sign it to confirm that she agreed to the change. 

There were no discussions beforehand and Farah, who had nearly three years’ service, did not agree with the change. 

An employer can change an employee’s working hours, but it should have good reason for doing so, consult the employee beforehand and have their agreement to do so. 

Distraught Farah sought advice from her family about what she should do.  

She also confided in family members for the first time how she had been bullied by her manager at work. Farah also revealed to her family that she had been secretly looking for another job. 

It was suggested to Farah that she should raise a formal grievance, and she did so. 

The grounds for grievance were that she had not been consulted, did not agree to the change to her working hours and had been subjected to bullying by her manager. 

The practice responded to the grievance by inviting Farah to have a chat. 

Farah attended the meeting. She was told by her manager, who she had accused of bullying, that a number of complaints about her had been received from patients. 

Shocked Farah was told the matter had to be investigated and she was immediately suspended from work. 

Tearful Farah admitted that she considered resigning before she contacted Castle Associates. 

When Farah spoke to our representative she explained that she was desperate to leave, but did not have another job lined up. 

Farah’s major worries were the impact work-related matters were having on her mental health, and that she would be unable to meet financial commitments if she simply quit. 

Our representative explained to Farah what a settlement agreement is.  

The agreement is a legally binding contract between employer and employee which settles claims that the employee may have against their employer, and can be used to end the working relationship amicably. 

Farah said it would be ideal it such an agreement could be reached. She felt the disciplinary case regarding patient complaints was a sham designed to dismiss her. At the time the disciplinary investigation had not yet taken place. 

A grievance hearing was arranged. At the hearing our representative argued that a proper and fair process had clearly not been followed in proposing to cut Farah’s working hours, which meant it was demonstrable that she had not been treated fairly.  

Prior to the hearing our representative had asked Farah to prepare details of bullying she had suffered along with any evidence. That evidence was presented to the grievance hearing chair.  

The decision to suspend Farah and reasons for it were cited as further evidence of bullying and an abuse of power by her manager. 

The chair and the HR advisor present were extremely  defensive of the manager and her actions. Our representative pointed out that they were doing so before they had asked Farah’s manager a single question or put any evidence to her and invited her to explain herself. 

The meeting was a difficult and fractious one, which eventually got around to discussing Farah’s desired outcome. 

It initiated a conversation about a settlement agreement. After a later exchange of correspondence and some negotiation after the hearing, an agreement was reached a week later. 

Farah was able to leave with a high four-figure tax free lump sum, payment of her one-month notice period and she was paid for her outstanding annual leave.  

Delighted Farah secured a new job a couple of weeks later. 

“A reputation built on success” 

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. 0333 772 0611 

A reputation built on success

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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