Complaining about an unfair disciplinary process gets the right result
Published 15 January 2020
It’s often the case that an employee subject to disciplinary action has to raise a formal complaint of their own before justice prevails.
An employee facing disciplinary action can overlook the fact that if they have been subjected to unfair treatment beforehand it may play a part in what is happening to them. If it is the case they can do something about it.
Becky, a customer service advisor, had felt picked on by her team leader who she felt was unsupportive, overly critical and belittling.
She tried to ignore it and get on with her work. The final straw, however, was when she was invited to a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of failing to deal with calls quickly despite being warned about it previously and being provided with support.
Becky, who had worked for the company for about three years, was adamant that no concerns had been raised about her work and no support ever provided to address any issues.
When the allegation came to light Becky was suspended from work. As is often the case for an employee who finds themselves in this situation she felt overwhelmed, bewildered and confused.
Becky would be the first to admit that she did struggle in work at times. She had a medical condition that affected her muscles and soft tissue and it met the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
Her employers were fully aware of Becky’s condition. Despite her repeated pleas for support in the workplace and the reassurance provided, nothing ever changed.
When Becky contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre her main focus was understandably on the disciplinary hearing.
Our representative met with Becky to discuss the case and to understand the background to it.
Becky explained her treatment by her team leader, her medical condition and the detrimental impact work-related matters were having on her.
In discussion with Becky our representative felt that the impact of Becky’s disability and lack of support provided by the employer meant it was a significant factor in her case and had implications for the disciplinary process.
Following the meeting with Becky our representative wrote and submitted a formal grievance on her behalf. The grounds for grievance included but were not limited to disability discrimination and bullying.
In cases such as Becky’s where it can reasonably be argued that the grievance has implications for the disciplinary process, a request can be made that the disciplinary process is put on hold.
In submitting the grievance our representative requested that the disciplinary hearing be suspended in accordance with section 46 of the ACAS Code of Practice.
The company agreed to do so and it arranged a grievance hearing. At the hearing our representative argued that the impact of Becky’s disability, lack of support and failure to make reasonable adjustments put her at a disadvantage in the workplace and her treatment could reasonably be said to amount to disability discrimination.
He also told the hearing about the treatment that Becky alleged she was subjected to by her team leader. Evidence that she had provided to support her allegations was also presented at the hearing. The hearing was a full and frank discussion of all of the matters of concern
Becky was asked about her desired grievance outcome and she explained it was for the issues raised to be addressed, the disciplinary to stop and to be able to transfer to a different team with appropriate support in place to help her.
Becky eventually got her desired outcome. The biggest relief was that the disciplinary case against her was dropped, as the company put it as a ‘gesture of goodwill.’ Our representatives are always pleased to get the right result, regardless of how an employer would like to dress it up.
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For free 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