Case Studies

Case Studies

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Establishing the truth of a disciplinary matter once the smoke has cleared

Published 16 January 2019

To be accused of putting the life of a vulnerable person in your care at risk is possibly as serious as it can get for an employee in the care industry.

When a service user at a unit for young adults with mental health issues was found to have a cigarette lighter it triggered an urgent investigation.

The fact the service user was a smoker and had a history of starting fires made the matter all the more serious.

When he was quizzed on how he obtained the lighter he claimed Calvin, a support worker, gave it to him.

Calvin, who had worked for the organisation for four years, was suspended from work. He categorically denied the allegation

The female member of staff who discovered the lighter also provided a witness statement.

She said the service user told her that he went to the office, asked to go outside to have a smoke, Calvin was on the phone and just handed him the lighter without looking at him.

When Calvin was invited to an investigation meeting he continued to protest his innocence.

He insisted that at the time of the alleged incident there were two other members of staff in the office who could confirm that he did not give the service user the lighter. He also urged the investigating manager to look at CCTV, which he believed would help to prove his innocence.

Following the conclusion of the disciplinary investigation the employer decided that Calvin did have a case to answer.

The allegation put to him was that he gave the service user the lighter, which put the young person and colleagues at risk.

When Calvin received the notification to attend a disciplinary hearing, and the evidence to support the allegation, he discovered that the two colleagues who were in the office with him had not provided witness statements.

The letter inviting him to the hearing also said he should make arrangements to come in and the view the CCTV footage prior to the hearing.

Calvin originally asked to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing by a colleague. However, the colleague was not available on the date scheduled for the meeting.

Calvin requested to change the disciplinary hearing date to an alternative one within five working days, which he is legally entitled to do.

Prior to the hearing Calvin’s colleague advised him that he would be better off getting expert help. He gave Calvin contact details for the Castle Associates employee support centre.

But before doing so the colleague obtained witness statements from the two employees in the office with Calvin at the time. Those statements supported Calvin’s case.

One of our representatives attended the disciplinary hearing with Calvin. Prior to the meeting they reviewed the CCTV together.

The footage contradicted crucial parts of the service user’s statement in regards to his movements and timings.

Our representative referred to the ACAS Code of Practice in requesting that Calvin’s colleagues attend the hearing as witnesses, which they did.

In presenting Calvin’s response to the allegation our representative highlighted a number of points to refute the case against him.

This included the fact there was no evidence to corroborate the claim; the service user’s statement was inconsistent and contradictory which was supported by CCTV; the employee who discovered the lighter reported hearsay and simply what she was told; and the two members of staff who were in the office support Calvin’s version of events in that he did not give the service user the lighter in the office.

Our representative said that while it was unclear how the service user obtained the lighter, it was absolutely clear from the evidence that it was not given to him by Calvin in the office on the date alleged.

The disciplinary hearing was later adjourned. After a lengthy break the disciplinary hearing chair informed Calvin, to his enormous relief that the allegation had been dismissed and no further action would be taken.

“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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