Finding the right solution to beat allegations of bullying
Published 28 April 2021
For any employee having to defend themselves against a serious allegation can be a daunting battle.
Sean was a senior employee with an energy company when he faced a number of allegations of bullying junior colleagues.
He was accused of being threatening, verbally abusive, aggressive and intimidating. Sean was said to have reduced a number of employees to tears.
Sean, who had worked for the company for nearly five years, categorically denied the allegations.
Stunned Sean insisted he was a firm but fair manager. He was adamant that he was not a bully.
The timing of the allegations was curious. It was at a time when the company had lost a lot of customers and had started a redundancy process. A number of management posts were under threat.
Sean had started to fear for his job security prior to the redundancy process and allegations levelled against him. Unjustified concerns had been raised with him about his performance.
While Sean had decided the time had come for him to leave, he wanted to do it on his terms.
He was suspended from work when the allegations first came to light, but he was not given specific details of the allegations.
A couple of days later Sean was invited to attend a meeting with the chief operations officer (COO).
At that meeting Sean was told the allegations against him are extremely serious. He understandably requested further details, but none were provided during the subsequent discussion.
The COO then initiated an off the record conversation. Sean agreed to it.
During that chat, Sean was told that if he agreed to leave with immediate effect he would be paid all money owed and also paid for his notice period. He was told it was a good option that would protect his professional reputation.
It was made clear that if Sean refused the offer then he was likely to be dismissed. Sean rejected the offer.
He contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help and advice.
Our representative discussed the case with Sean. During that chat Sean revealed that similar allegations were made against a female colleague, but he was told by the COO to deal with them informally.
Sean believed that given access to the work computer system, he could produce evidence to support the claim. Access to the company computer network was withdrawn when Sean was suspended.
By the time Sean spoke to our representative he had been on suspension for two months He had also not had sight of the evidence of the allegations against him.
Given the manner in which Sean had been treated a formal grievance was submitted on his behalf.
It was on the grounds of sex discrimination – he was being treated differently to a female colleague in the same circumstances – and unfair treatment.
The grievance letter also requested details of the evidence to support the allegations, given the unreasonable length of time in dealing with the case. It also requested he be given access to the company computer system to look for evidence to support his grievance.
A number of anonymous witness statements were provided, which lacked specific details of what occurred. Dates or rough dates of alleged incidents were also not provided. Sean was denied access to the company computer system.
A grievance hearing was arranged. Prior to it taking place, Sean made it clear that he wanted to leave but with a decent pay off.
At the grievance hearing our representative detailed the evidence to support the assertion that Sean had suffered sex discrimination. He also explained the unfavourable treatment Sean had been subjected to, which included details that demonstrated his treatment in relation to the allegations was unfair and breached the ACAS Code of Practice.
The conversation quickly turned to how the matter could be resolved.
It was made clear that Sean’s desired outcome was to reach a settlement agreement with the company.
Discussions took place at the time and afterwards. A settlement was eventually reached in which Sean received a substantial five-figure sum.