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Case Studies

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Disciplinary for theft

Published 04 March 2020

Getting the right disciplinary outcome really is something to celebrate

Caretaker John could have been forgiven for popping open a bottle of bubbly of his own after being cleared of stealing champagne.
He was invited to a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of theft. It was alleged he stole the drink from a wedding reception while helping to clear the hall at the community centre where he had worked for nine years.
The evidence against him included a statement from a colleague. The workmate said he saw the bottle on a table and saw John leaving with a rucksack before the champagne was reported stolen. He did not say that he saw John take it.

There was also a complaint from the groom about the missing bottle. He said it was there when he left the hall for about 10 minutes to go to his car and also spoke to a guest in the car park. He said when he returned it was missing.
CCTV from outside of the centre was also provided to support the allegation. The crucial footage focused on John’s rucksack. It was said to look light when he arrived and much heavier when he left, in the time period when the alleged theft took place.
John categorically denied the allegation. He felt the action being taken against him was vindictive. He had previously raised a formal grievance against the manager investigating the alleged theft.
He was convinced the disciplinary case against him was payback. After the grievance he felt his manager was rude and abrupt and his attitude towards him  completely changed.
The grievance was in relation to an unfair performance review process and an unlawful deduction of wages regarding unpaid overtime.
John feared the worst because the letter inviting him to the disciplinary hearing warned that dismissal was a potential outcome.
Fortunately, John was very good friends with a hotel worker who had been reinstated by his employer after he won a claim for unfair dismissal.
He advised John that employers can be ruthless in these circumstances. He said that in his case there was no interest in establishing the truth or facts.
John’s pal gave him the contact details for the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre.

After discussing the case with John our representative had significant concerns given the evidence provided and investigation conducted up until that stage.

John had not been shown the CCTV footage and it was only mentioned to him when he was suspended from work.

Our representative contacted the employer requesting to see the footage prior to the hearing. Upon reviewing the footage it was obvious to our representative that John’s rucksack did look much heavier when he was captured on camera leaving.

As it turned out there was a perfectly innocent explanation for it, which the employer had completely overlooked. Our representative requested additional footage for the time when the groom left and returned to the hall.

That additional footage, which included John leaving, also showed two men and a woman leaving carrying black bin bags.

John categorically denied the allegation of theft. The footage of John arriving and leaving the hall was played at the disciplinary hearing.

It was highlighted that upon arrival he was wearing a coat and when leaving he was not - as it was stuffed in his rucksack .

The hearing was also told that there was no direct witness evidence to say that he actually took the bottle. 

With other people captured on CCTV leaving in the time period the bottle of champagne was said to have been taken it was argued that it was unfair to focus solely on John.

The investigating manager’s history with John was explained and used to back the assertion that the case was unfair and flawed.

The disciplinary hearing chair was told the evidence did not substantiate the allegation against John and demonstrated the investigation was not thorough and fair or approached with an open mindset.

The hearing chair asked John a series of questions about his role, what he saw, what he did etc. John was later cleared of the allegation.

 

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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. 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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