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Case Studies

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Being Unfairly Disciplined?

Published 06 June 2018

Left feeling sick and hurt by the actions of an unfair manager

 

When retail supervisor Madeleine got a telephone call at work that all working parents dread…she could never have imagined what was to follow.

Her daughter’s primary school called to inform Madeleine that her little girl had been taken ill.

Madeleine attempted to contact her manager, he was unavailable and so she informed staff she was leaving.

She later telephoned her manager. He apologised for not being available and said he was informed it was an emergency and that she had to leave.

Her daughter was fine and Madeleine returned to work the following day. She did not give the incident a second thought.

A couple of weeks later Madeleine was left humiliated when her manager openly and loudly criticised he work in front of staff. The incident itself was not unusual - but the fact it took place in front of colleagues was.

Madeleine later raised it with her manager; he was dismissive and advised her to look for another job if she had a problem.

After careful consideration Madeleine submitted a formal grievance to HR as she felt she was being bullied.

The grievance was not upheld, and the outcome recommended that mediation should take place with her manager. It seemed to work – for a short while at least.

During a stock-take about three weeks later the manager was verbally abusive towards Madeleine about the condition of the store. This was witnessed by a member of staff who later the same day sent a text message to Madeleine expressing her disgust at the way she had been spoken to.

The following day Madeleine called in sick, and was then off for four weeks with work-related stress.

When Madeleine returned to work she was informed by her manager that she was going to be disciplined for taking an unauthorised absence. This was the day a couple of months earlier when her daughter had been taken ill at school.

The company started a disciplinary investigation. Madeleine attended an investigation meeting with her manager who said she had not informed him she had to leave on the day, and she should have done.

He recommended that she should face formal disciplinary action. The same manager was then appointed to chair the disciplinary hearing.

When Madeleine discussed it with her husband, he knew exactly what to do. A colleague of his who was unfairly selected for redundancy was supported by one of our representatives when he successfully challenged that decision.

Madeleine’s husband got the contact details for the Castle Associates employee support centre from his workmate.

Our representative recommended that Madeleine submit a formal grievance about her treatment. The grievance also contained a request to suspend the disciplinary process in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice. The company reluctantly agreed to do so.

At the grievance hearing our representative argued that Madeleine was the victim of bullying and the disciplinary process was a witch-hunt and an extension of this. The fact her manager was involved in the case, apparently investigated it, recommended disciplinary action and was due to chair the disciplinary hearing breached the ACAS Code, was a conflict of interests and a misuse of power.

A copy of the text message from the colleague, who witnessed the stock-take incident, was also presented as evidence to support the allegation of his unfavourable behaviour and conduct towards Madeleine.

In addition it was highlighted that the alleged unauthorised absence took place months earlier, the manager was fully aware of it at the time and did not take immediate action.

Madeline’s desired grievance outcome was for disciplinary action against her to be dropped, to be transferred to a store nearer to her home and for any necessary action to be taken against her manager.

The grievance was upheld and the disciplinary allegation was dropped and Madeleine got her transfer. Madeleine was later interviewed as part of a disciplinary investigation against the same manager after two other members of staff complained about him.

There are rumours about the outcome of that investigation, but what is clear is that he left the business pretty quickly.

 

 

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