Dealing with a disciplinary case created by a colleague with a grudge
Published 09 March 2022
When disciplinary allegations were levelled against supermarket worker Janine for the second time in just two months she understandably feared the worst.
Janine already had a final written warning when she faced a new allegation of making offensive comments about a shopper.
It was the final straw for Janine, she had had enough after four years’ service, and she simply wanted to leave on her terms.
That was not looking likely when she contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help.
The active final warning and the new allegation meant if it was upheld, dismissal was a possible, and most likely, outcome.
Upon reviewing the case against Janine our representative had significant concerns about the process and way she had been treated.
At the heart of the problem was a male colleague who Janine had raised a grievance against.
He had made sexual advances towards her, which Janine had rejected. Her grievance for sexual harassment was not upheld.
The subject of the grievance alleged Janine’s complaint was malicious and as a result he felt bullied. It somehow ended up in Janine being issued with a final written warning.
Workmates advised her to accept it because he was a nasty piece of work and he had let it be known he was going to get her.
Worried Janine did not appeal against the warning. She did her best to avoid her colleague.
His plan for revenge seemed clear when Janine was summoned to her manager’s office and asked about comments about a customer who had returned an item.
Janine could recall the incident, the shopper being irate and it being a difficult situation to deal with.
The manager said ‘two witnesses’ had reported comments she made about the shopper’s race, appearance, weight and referring to them using a derogatory term. The allegation was vehemently denied by Janine.
It was revealed the male colleague, the one she had raised the grievance against, had reported the alleged comments. It led to Janine being suspended from work.
Our representative was surprised when he was presented with the evidence to support the allegation ahead of a disciplinary hearing.
It included a signed statement from her male colleague, and an anonymous statement he claimed he had been given by a workmate who was scared and did not want to get involved.
Janine shared with our representative text and online messages from colleagues that supported the main witness in the disciplinary case had made a threat to get her after she raised the grievance against him.
Our representative felt it amounted to evidence of victimisation after Janine had made a complaint of sexual harassment. With the addition of the evidence in the disciplinary case and dubious anonymous statement a new grievance was raised on behalf of Janine.
The grounds for grievance were victimisation and unfair treatment. The grievance letter referred to section 46 of the ACAS Code of Practice to assert the disciplinary hearing should be suspended until the grievance is fully resolved.
The employer refused to do so. Instead it arranged to hear the grievance prior to the disciplinary case on the same day.
At the grievance hearing our representative detailed the victimisation Janine had been subjected to after making a sexual harassment complaint. He also detailed the unfairness of the disciplinary process, its questionable evidence and the unfavourable treatment she had suffered.
Our representative argued the disciplinary hearing could not reasonably go ahead until the grievance had been fully resolved, as if it was upheld it would have serious implications and bearing on that process.
This led the employer to initiate a conversation about Janine’s desired outcome to her grievance. It resulted in a conversation about a settlement agreement.
An agreement was later agreed which finally allowed Janine to leave on her terms and with payment that included a tax free lump sum.