Case Studies

Case Studies

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Employer at fault for poor performance during a disciplinary process

Published 20 May 2020

When you lose trust and confidence in any type of relationship regaining it is usually extremely difficult if not impossible.

It is certainly not uncommon for an employer to attempt to use a loss of trust as a reason to dismiss an employee when really there is no good reason for it to do so, as in the case of Denise.

The telecommunications worker had just under three years’ service when she faced a disciplinary hearing and the threat of dismissal.

Her employer alleged she had failed to meet a number of objectives and that she had been late for work on a number of occasions.

Denise was understandably shocked because up until that point no concerns had ever been raised with her about her work or timekeeping.

When Denise contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help she was sceptical about the reasoning and timing of the action being taken against her.

Denise told our representative that it came shortly after a disagreement with her manager regarding incorrect instructions he had given her for a job. It led to a complaint from a client.

Denise was unhappy because her manager wrongly blamed her, so she escalated the matter to the owner of the business. She was aware that her manager was later spoken to about the matter.

During a one-to-one meeting a few weeks later the  manager was for the very first time critical of Denise’s performance and timekeeping.

He claimed that he had conducted a disciplinary investigation and the findings raised serious questions about her capability and suitability for her role and this would have to be considered formally.

Denise strongly disagreed. However, she was later invited to attend a disciplinary hearing, with the same manager, to face an allegation of a breakdown of trust and confidence in her as an employee as a result of a failure to meet objectives and bad timekeeping.

No evidence was provided to support either allegation. Denise raised a formal grievance after discussing her case with our representative and taking his advice.

In summary the grounds for grievance focused on unfair treatment that Denise was being subjected to.

The grounds for grievance included: failing to provide evidence to support the allegations in breach of the ACAS Code of Practice and company disciplinary policy; the use of the disciplinary policy to address the alleged concerns when the company had a performance management policy; and a conflict of interests in the manager who did the investigation chairing the disciplinary hearing.

The company refused to hear the grievance but said it would change the chair of the disciplinary hearing. Our representative challenged the employer’s refusal to hear the grievance, but the company was adamant.

At the start of the disciplinary hearing our representative raised his concerns. He maintained it would be unfair to go ahead with the disciplinary hearing when no evidence had been provided to support the allegations or demonstrate the extent of any investigation that had been conducted.

It was highlighted that no details had been provided  of the objectives that Denise allegedly failed to meet or of the dates when she was apparently late. This was said to have denied her a reasonable opportunity to prepare for the hearing and respond to the allegations.

The disciplinary chair and HR advisor present said the issue was a loss of trust and confidence in Denise. Our representative said that there is usually a particular reason for it and employment law was clear that in such cases that should be the focus of the hearing, rather than simply relying on  a breakdown in trust.

There was a lengthy discussion about the concerns raised regarding the case before the hearing was eventually adjourned.

Denise was devastated by the way she was being treated and told our representative she felt she could no longer work for the company, but felt she had no choice.

Our representative discussed a settlement agreement with her, which Denise said would be ideal.

The company later dropped the allegations, subsequent conversations and negotiations took place about a settlement agreement, which was eventually agreed.


“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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