Learning the hard way that failing to be on your best behaviour at all times can lead to disciplinary trouble.
Published 09 July 2020
Valuable lessons can be learned during away training days including ones about the serious repercussions that can follow any alleged bad behaviour
Experienced car part sales advisor Greg faced the threat of dismissal following allegations of inappropriate conduct with a female colleague during a training course.
He had worked for his employer for over 12 years when a colleague from another branch alleged he hugged her inappropriately and said he had spiked her drink.
When Greg contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help he protested his innocence.
He insisted that what he said and did during an evening get-together, at a countryside hotel where the team stayed, had been taken the wrong way.
When Greg was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing he was presented with the evidence to support the allegation against him.
The main evidence was a witness statement from the female employee making the complaint.
She alleged that Greg gave her a hug, which made her feel uncomfortable because she had only just met him, and laughed when he said he would pop up to her room when the tablet he put in her drink kicked in.
This happened when she left the bar area to return to her room.
Other colleagues on the training course simply described seeing Greg interacting with the woman throughout the evening and the pair sitting, talking and laughing. None claimed that they witnessed or heard anything inappropriate.
Although Greg had been drinking he said he could recall giving her a hug because he thought they got on well. He said the comment about the drink was meant as a joke, albeit with hindsight a very bad taste one.
The female colleague, who had a roommate, confirmed Greg did not do anything untoward and that she felt fine the following day.
She did not raise a formal grievance but said she found his actions inappropriate and his comment uncomfortable and unnerving.
After Greg’s employer became aware of the incident he was immediately suspended from work.
When Greg spoke to our representative he said he could remember returning to the bar after the incident, having more to drink and eventually being helped to his room by a couple of colleagues.
He told our representative that his workmates would confirm he did not act inappropriately in the lead up to the incident or afterwards, which supported his claim that his comment was meant as a joke.
Prior to the disciplinary hearing our representative requested that two of Greg’s colleagues, one male and the other female, attend the hearing as witnesses in accordance with section 12 of the ACAS Code of Practice.
At the disciplinary hearing both confirmed that Greg had been seen laughing and joking with the female employee before both left the bar area together. They said Greg quickly returned, carried on drinking and then they later helped him to his room.
The hearing was told by our representative that the comment by Greg about putting a tablet in the woman’s drink was a bad taste joke, attempt at humour and he regretted saying it.
It was said that there was nothing sinister in what he said, and that he apologised unreservedly for any offence or upset that he caused.
The disciplinary hearing chair accepted that what Greg said was a joke and that he did not put anything in the drink.
The hearing was told that because Greg had been drinking he was more relaxed than normal and may have been over friendly. But, there was no ulterior motive in him giving the woman a hug and the fact he did not make any inappropriate or suggestive comments proved there was no ulterior motive in what he did.
The hearing was told Greg was a long-serving employee, the behaviour was out of character, he had shown remorse and taken learning from the incident.
The disciplinary hearing chair quizzed Greg about the incident and his actions.
Greg was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
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