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Failing to spot an employee’s innocence in the disciplinary evidence

Published 28 August 2018

Physical abuse of the vulnerable is a heinous act and it is one of the worst allegations that can be made against anyone in the caring profession.

Bridget, an experienced carer, was wrongly accused of repeatedly slapping an elderly care home resident. 

She was left heartbroken and distressed and thought things could not possibly get any worse.

When she was suspended from work Bridget was advised by her employer it would be best if she resigned as there was an eye witness to the incident.

Bridget had previously reported colleagues for rough handling that resulted in one being dismissed, so she always feared repercussions.

Distraught Bridget contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help.

Anyone who has ever been cleared of disciplinary allegations will know that the evidence of their innocence is usually right there in front of their employer. Our representatives are experts at identifying flaws, inconsistencies and contradictions in the evidence to help prove an employee’s innocence.
It is an obvious relief to be cleared of any wrongdoing, but going through the disciplinary process can leave you feeling isolated and helpless and impact on your health and well-being.

The company conducted a disciplinary investigation and invited Bridget to attend an investigation meeting.
Worried Bridget requested that she be allowed to be accompanied to that meeting. This was refused by her employer, which pointed out her statutory right to be accompanied does not extend to investigation meetings.

At this meeting Bridget categorically denied the allegation. The employer insisted she was lying as there was an eyewitness.

When Bridget received the notification to attend a disciplinary hearing it included the evidence against her, a sketchy description from the resident and hearsay statements from colleagues. It did not include an eye witness account.
At the hearing it was not disputed that Bridget was working on the day of the incident and that she had provided care for the resident in question.
The resident had given a description of the person who hit him to a member of staff. It was of ‘a large lady with short dark hair’. Bridget is under 5ft 4ins tall, of medium build, with should length dark hair.
Our representative pointed out Bridget clearly did not fit the description. He queried why after the company identified her as the alleged culprit no attempt was ever made to check with the resident, who had some capacity, as to whether she was in fact the person he claimed had repeatedly slapped him while trying to put him into bed.
The witness statements from two colleagues were based on the hearsay, as none of them actually saw what happened. A female member of staff who saw the resident after the alleged incident reported what he had told her. She then reported this to a male colleague, he then spoke to the resident, but his version of what he was told by the resident differed to that of his female colleague.

Our representative pinpointed the differences in both statements and argued that as the accounts contained inconsistencies and contradictions they were unreliable.

Another female colleague said that she had her break with Bridget prior to the incident and that Bridget seemed to be in a bad mood. Our representative pointed out this was a presumption, which was not explored or questioned. Bridget insisted she was not in a bad mood.

Our representative also questioned whether proper process had been followed by the home in dealing with such an incident. Given that this was an alleged physical assault on a vulnerable resident there was no medical evidence to show he was ever examined or suffered any injuries consistent with being slapped repeatedly.

Our representative argued that based on the evidence any reasonable employer would clear Bridget of any wrongdoing. The following week Bridget was cleared of the allegation but rather than return to the same care home asked for a transfer to a different one, which she was given.

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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. 

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