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Case Studies

Case Studies

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A terrible start to a working relationship that ended in the desired way

Published 19 January 2022

First impressions count, which in Nigel’s case meant he was right to be concerned.

When Nigel, an accountant, was introduced to his new female manager for the first time it left him feeling rather uneasy.

She smiled knowingly and commented that she had heard everything about him and it was going to be fun working with him. Nigel was puzzled by the comment.

However, he did not feel it was appropriate to question it at the time. Instead he nervously laughed it off.

Admittedly Nigel was unsettled by what was said to him. His first impression of his new boss was not a good one.

Nigel contacted  the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help a short time later.

This was after the newly appointed manager, just a couple of weeks into her role, accused him of being a misogynist.

Three female colleagues were said to have made complaints against Nigel.

The evidence against Nigel, who had worked to the company for four years, was in the form of anonymous witness statements.

The statements had very similar wording and were sparse on specific details to back up claims e.g. ‘it’s obvious he does not like women, does not know how to talk to them or act with respect.’

Nigel had previously been spoken to about on a couple of occasions about how he voices his opinion, which was said to make colleagues feel uncomfortable.  But no further action was ever taken.

Nigel was the first to admit that being in his mid-fifties at the time, he could be considered old-fashioned in his approach and views on some matters. He was also  the oldest employee in the office.

Colleagues in fact openly referred to him as the grumpy old man, and it was a longstanding nickname.

Nigel was hurt by the new allegations levelled against him, which he vehemently denied.

When they first came to light he was suspended from work by his manager.

At the same time  the manager said she believed Nigel had a problem with young women in the office and they felt uncomfortable around him. She also accused him of being out of touch and suggested he take early retirement.

Offended by the comment, Nigel broke the terms of his suspension and sent a message to a female colleague expressing his shock at what was said to him.

The workmate messaged back to express her sympathy, and say that it is an open secret the manager wants to get rid of him because she considers him a bigoted middle-aged man.

Nigel was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing chaired by his manager, who upheld an allegation that he was sexist.

Our representative assisted Nigel in submitting an appeal against his unfair dismissal.

Upon reviewing the case it was evident to our representative the process was not fair and the evidence highly questionable.

Prior to the disciplinary appeal hearing our representative challenged the use of anonymous witness statements. The statements were written by the witnesses, what was written was not questioned and simply accepted as fact and they lacked specific details to allow Nigel to fully respond other than to say the allegations were not true.

It was also raised that Nigel had been subjected to age discrimination and other forms of other unfavourable work-related treatment.

There was considerable correspondence between our representative requesting information and challenging the company’s unreasonable responses to such requests.

This included an attempt to raise a formal grievance on behalf of Nigel, which the company steadfastly refused to accept.

Nigel was clear prior to the appeal hearing that he did not want to be reinstated. His desired outcome was to be able to reach a settlement agreement, draw a line under the matter and move on.

A comprehensive presentation by our representative asserted and demonstrated Nigel had been unfairly treated and dismissed.

It led to a conversation about Nigel’s desired outcome, a later period of negotiation before a settlement was eventually reached.

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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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