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Disciplinary after Christmas party

Published 08 January 2020

The nasty hangover that can follow the Christmas do

It’s that time of year when most of us are probably counting the cost of Christmas and for those alleged to have misbehaved at the work festive party that cost can be higher than most.

Employees are encouraged to let their hair down and have a good time at the Christmas party and with alcohol added to the mix it can be a recipe for trouble.

A couple of years ago Tyrone’s Christmas was ruined when he was suspended from work just before the festive break.

Tyrone, a collections agent, was alleged to have acted in a threatening and intimidating manner to a female colleague at the work’s party.

It followed an argument over a spilled drink in a bar. There was raised voices and abusive language used by both.

Tyrone is well over 6ft an towered over his female colleague. He was led away by a couple of workmates and taken outside. A manager from another department came out, told Tyrone to leave and said he was suspended until further notice.

The following day Tyrone was sent an email by his own manager which confirmed his suspension and invited him to a disciplinary hearing in the New Year. The email contained no evidence and warned that if the allegation is considered proven it could lead to dismissal.

Tyrone who had worked for the company for just under four years was understandably fearful especially after what had happened to him with a previous employer.

He left his last job with a settlement agreement after raising serious concerns about health a safety risks to employees.

After doing so Tyrone felt he was singled out by management. The final straw was when there was an unjustified attempt to discipline him based on a groundless allegation.

On that occasion he raised a formal grievance before he was able to negotiate the settlement.

So, having been through a similar process, albeit a number of years earlier, Tyrone was understandably worried about the Christmas party allegation.

He initially considered representing himself before contacting the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help. Tyrone informed our representative that despite being on suspension he had been contacted by two colleagues who witnessed the entire incident and they were willing to say he was not to blame for the bust-up.

 

Prior to the disciplinary hearing our representative requested the evidence that the company had to support the allegation. It only provided a statement from the manager who intervened to stop the argument and a copy of its bullying policy.

Our representative referred to the ACAS Code of Practice in requesting that the two colleagues who offered to support Tyrone attend the hearing as witnesses.

At the hearing it was highlighted that in his statement the manager who intervened did so because he thought it did not look right as Tyrone was much bigger than his female colleague and based on this he feared what might happen. He did not claim that Tyrone was the aggressor.

The two witnesses attended the hearing and stated that the female employee was the aggressor and that they thought Tyrone was restrained in how he responded given the abusive verbal barrage he was subjected to.

Our representative argued that the investigation had not been through, there was no complaint from the female employee and a lack of evidence to support a serious allegation.

The hearing was also told that it appeared Tyrone was only facing formal action because he was a male and because of his size. It was argued that because of this the company had automatically assumed he was the aggressor, which was evident in what was said by the manager who intervened.

The disciplinary hearing chair asked a number of questions about the incident before she adjourned the hearing. After a lengthy break she returned to clear Tyrone of any wrongdoing.

“A reputation built on success”

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

 

A reputation built on success

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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