Help when facing an unfair disciplinary battle
Published 01 March 2023
You would like to think that if anyone saw a co-worker in distress they would try to help, well Kevin did just that - but it backfired dramatically.
When a colleague in his team was being shouted at and physically manhandled by her partner at a works social event, the leadership development manager stepped in.
Kevin had gone outside to have a cigarette when he saw a female workmate being held and dragged by her boyfriend towards a vehicle in a restaurant car park.
His colleague was crying, shouting and swearing at her boyfriend and refusing to get in the car. Kevin physically intervened to stop her being forced into the vehicle.
He got involved in some pushing and shoving with the man and words were exchanged before Kevin led his colleague back inside the venue. Another male colleague who was also in the car park had come to help.
At a disciplinary hearing at which Kevin faced allegations of assault, threatening behaviour and bringing the employer into disrepute, our representative argued he should be cleared of any wrongdoing.
The hearing took place after the man, backed and supported by his girlfriend who Kevin had helped, complained he had been manhandled, threatened and left battered and bruised after the incident.
The disciplinary hearing heard how Kevin, who had 12 years exemplary service, was suspended from work after the complaint was received.
The woman at the centre of the allegation quit her role in Kevin’s team prior to the disciplinary hearing.
But before doing so, she took part in the disciplinary investigation and provided a witness statement supporting her boyfriend’s version of events.
Other employees also provided witness statements in relation to what they saw and heard on the night.
One of those witnesses was in the car park at the time of the incident and his evidence would be crucial.
Other witnesses were able to describe what their former colleague said when she came back inside the restaurant, which also proved to be important.
When Kevin first spoke to our representative after contacting our Employee Support Centre he stressed there were vital witnesses who could support his case.
When our representative reviewed the witness evidence, he was surprised by the sparse content of the witness statements.
The documents, none of them one-full page long, showed the limited scope of the investigation despite the seriousness of the allegations.
For example witnesses who spoke to their ex workmate when she came inside after the incident, were simply asked if they saw what happened in the car park and about Kevin and the event itself.
This was despite Kevin making it clear during his investigation interview that a colleague witnessed some of what happened in the car park and others heard their co-worker at the time repeatedly thank him because she knew she would have been seriously hurt if she got in the car.
Our representative after discussing the case with Kevin, informed the employer that he wanted to call a number of employees to the hearing as witnesses in accordance with section 12 of the ACAS Code of Practice.
Our representative’s skilful questioning of the witnesses elicited various information, which supported Kevin’s case.
This included evidence that said the force Kevin used was reasonable and proportionate, he was calm in the circumstances and did not make any threats.
All witnesses confirmed Kevin was repeatedly thanked by the ex-employee for intervening and they heard words to the effect that if he had not done so she knew she would have been seriously hurt, or according to one witness killed.
Our representative told the hearing Kevin used reasonable force in the circumstances, was brave and courageous for intervening and there was no evidence to support the man was injured as he claimed.
Details of Kevin’s outstanding work record, dedicated long service and good character were detailed to support he was not the violent person unfairly described in the malicious complaint.
Kevin was delighted to be cleared of the allegations at the end of the disciplinary hearing.