Combative Jan was no stranger to a fight but she found herself in desperate need of help when she faced an unfair battle to save her job.
At a disciplinary hearing the shop worker, who was also a martial arts fanatic, was accused of threatening behaviour and making hurtful comments towards a female colleague.
The letter inviting Jan to the hearing warned that dismissal was a possible outcome.
It followed an incident in which Jan’s workmate, involved in a volatile personal relationship, finally broke up with her partner.
Jan had been advising her to leave him for a number of years. The couple eventually split following an incident that required police involvement.
Relieved Jan aired her blunt views to a group of fellow workers discussing the matter in work. The employee involved in the incident was not present at the time.
Jan made a number of comments about the situation. It included her saying that her colleague - the pair were close and good friends outside of work - was an idiot for staying in the relationship. Jan also said she had wanted to slap her to bring her to her senses a number of times for doing so.
Prior to her disciplinary hearing Jan contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help with her case
At the hearing our representative explained that Jan had always been supportive of her colleague.
The disciplinary hearing chair was presented with a statement provided by the woman, which said she had valued Jan’s support. She added that she was not offended by what she was told Jan had said and did not feel threatened by her.
Our representative explained that Jan had made the same and similar comments directly to her colleague. He presented text and social media messages between the pair, provided by Jan, to back that up.
He said Jan made throwaway comments, made without thinking carefully, with emotion running high and they were not intended to be serious
Our representative told the hearing that no reasonable employer would consider that the comments amounted to gross misconduct, as suggested.
It was also pointed out that inconsistences and contradictions in the witness accounts did not support the complaint, made by a member of staff who claimed to be offended by what she heard Jan say.
The fact Jan had worked to the retailer for 13 years, was long-serving and had an exemplary record was highlighted as evidence of her good character.
Prior to the disciplinary hearing Jan was suspended from work.
It followed a complaint from another female co-worker, in the group when Jan made the comments. She objected to what was said because she considered it threatening and inappropriate.
The complainant said that because Jan had a martial arts background people feared what she would do.
During the disciplinary investigation Jan had insisted the comments were not serious.
She said they were made in the heat of the moment, out of frustration at the situation and what had happened to her pal.
Jan told the investigating manager that if they spoke to her colleague she would confirm that she had been supportive and intervened in the past to help.
The employee who was involved in the incident never returned to work and left the company before Jan’s disciplinary hearing.
The reason why she left was unclear and it was never made known. She had been subject of a formal grievance raised by another worker, and speculation was that it was connected to that.
However, Jan contacted her to request a statement from her for the disciplinary hearing. Her ex colleague was happy to provide it.
Our representative told the disciplinary hearing that there was a culture of gossip in the workplace and the comments made by Jan were in keeping with that.
He said she had taken appropriate learning from the matter and accepted that the comments were ill-judged.
Jan was asked a number of questions in relation to the allegation before the hearing was adjourned,
The following day Jan was informed that the allegation had been dismissed.
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