Cleaning up a messy disciplinary process
Published 11 December 2019
Any employee unfairly facing disciplinary action is likely to be devastated and when that individual is committed and passionate about their work the situation can be heart-breaking.
Shop worker Glenda had worked for an independent fashion retailer for over a decade when she was threatened with dismissal for reasons that included failing to do the washing up and to keep files neat and tidy.
It inevitably led to Glenda losing all trust and confidence in her employer. With the help of our representative she was eventually able to agree a settlement agreement and leave.
A settlement agreement is a legally binding document between an employee and employer that records the agreement when the employment relationship has come to an end.
Our representative was able to negotiate agreeable terms for Glenda that included the payment of a tax-free lump sum, her notice period and outstanding annual leave.
When Glenda was invited to a disciplinary hearing it was to face an allegation of failing to follow reasonable management instructions.
The evidence against her included a statement from the shop manager that alleged concerns raised with Glenda about the untidiness of areas at the back of the shop had been ignored. Pictures of untidy files and washing up that had not been done were also included in the evidence.
The history of this case was important. Glenda had previously raised a formal grievance against her manager. It alleged that performance reviews were not fair and she was being given jobs to do that are not in her job description.
That grievance was rejected. Afterwards the relationship between Glenda and her manager was somewhat strained.
Glenda’s disciplinary problem started when the manager asked her to ensure all areas of the shop were kept tidy and presentable at all times. She did not complain and did her best.
On a number of occasions the manager pointed out concerns such as rubbish outside the front of the shop, an overflowing bin at the back of the shop and the microwave not being clean.
Glenda did her best but felt picked on. She spoke to the owner informally about how she was feeling and he suggested mediation for the pair. He said he would arrange it, but it never happened.
The final straw was when the manager sent Glenda an email with a list of menial tasks designated for her. The email warned that failure to carry out the tasks could lead to disciplinary action being taken against her. Glenda was furious and admittedly had a heated discussion with her manager.
As a result she was initially suspended from work for aggressive behaviour and insubordination. However, when she was later invited to a disciplinary hearing it was to face an allegation of failing to follow management instructions.
Glenda was devastated. She loved her job, went above and beyond what was expected of her, put in plenty of unpaid hours and was popular especially with regular customers who she had a good rapport with.
The letter inviting Glenda to the disciplinary hearing warned that dismissal was a potential outcome. Having never been in that position before Glenda feared the worse and did not know what to do.
One thing Glenda was absolutely clear on was that she no longer wished to work for the company. She eventually contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help.
At the disciplinary hearing our representative focused on a number of factors to highlight the unfairness of the process. This included Glenda’s job description, the manager’s behaviour and conduct and impact on Glenda, handling of concerns raised by Glenda, the disciplinary process, the allegations and evidence.
Our representative used the disciplinary hearing to initiate a conversation about a settlement agreement. Following discussion and some later negotiations it was eventually agreed.
The disciplinary case was dropped and Glenda was allowed to leave on terms she was very happy with.
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