Skilled work needed to repair the damage of an unfair dismissal
Published 19 May 2021
Engineer Nathan was devastated when he was sacked, but he was determined to fix the situation and clear his name.
He was fired after being blamed for a safety breach that led to a gas leak at the technology company where he had worked for three years.
Distraught Nathan was adamant that he was not to blame for the incident. He insisted he was unfairly made a scapegoat for what happened.
In desperate need of help Nathan contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for assistance.
At the time of his dismissal, which was prior to lockdown, Nathan met with our representative to discuss the case and review the evidence.
Following the meeting our representative believed that the decision amounted to an unfair dismissal.
Nathan expressed his overwhelming relief that someone had finally looked at the case, and agreed that he had been treated unfairly.
As well as concerns about the investigation, our representative identified that the disciplinary process breached employment law guidance and the ACAS Code of Practice.
Our representatives are always keen to understand all issues an employee believes are relevant to a case, and the background to it.
Nathan, who is gay, explained he had been consistently subjected to homophobic abuse from colleagues, but management had dismissed it as just lads having a laugh.
His colleagues were spoken to, the abuse subsided, but there were still comments and jokes that Nathan felt he had to put up with. All employers should take a zero-tolerance approach to any type of discrimination.
Nathan felt the abuse he was subjected to was significant. On shift with him at the time of the incident, were three colleagues who socialised together and they were responsible for the unfavourable treatment he had suffered.
The company decided that at least one worker on that shift had tampered with the machine and was responsible for the safety breach.
With the help of our representative Nathan submitted a disciplinary appeal against the decision to dismiss him. .
A grievance for discrimination because of sexual orientation was submitted along with the appeal.
Discrimination because of sexual orientation is when you are treated unfairly because of your sexual orientation.
It is advisable for an employer to follow their usual grievance procedure to deal with a grievance raised by an ex-employee. It will help the employer to avoid the risk of additional compensation being awarded against them.
However, the company refused to acknowledge the grievance. Instead the HR manager insisted it was part of the appeal and would be treated as such.
Despite objection from our representative, the company was adamant, and it would not change its stance.
At the appeal hearing our representative highlighted the unfairness and flaws in the investigation. While all of the witnesses denied responsibility, only one suggested that he thought Nathan may have been responsible for tampering with the machine. It was the only evidence to implicate Nathan, and the decision was based on this.
Our representative also focused on the process conducted and highlighted numerous concerns that included: the use of anonymous witness statements which could not be justified, went against employment law guidance and denied Nathan the opportunity to properly challenge the evidence; witnesses allowed to write their own statements without any questions asked of them despite the seriousness of the allegation; and insufficient evidence to support the allegation.
A comprehensive presentation from our representative fully picked apart the case and demonstrated the unfairness of the decision.
He also raised the company’s failure to properly acknowledge and deal with Nathan’s grievance.
The appeal hearing was told the company should have followed the ACAS Code in dealing with the grievance, as its unreasonable failure to do so can lead to an uplift in compensation if Nathan’s claim for unfair dismissal is successful.
Nathan’s desired outcome to the appeal was discussed at the end of a lengthy hearing.
He did not want to be reinstated. Our representative explained his desired outcome was a settlement agreement.
Nathan was delighted with the settlement that was eventually reached after discussions and negotiations following the appeal hearing
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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. 0333 772 0611