Case Studies

Case Studies

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The fallout when a disgruntled workmate seeks revenge

Published 02 May 2018

When colleagues fallout it can lead to malicious allegations being made and have serious repercussions in the workplace

This is the position Sandra found herself in after she was suspended from work. At the time she was simply informed that her employer had serious concerns about her conduct.

Shocked Sandra, who had worked for the holiday company for three years, understandably was desperate to know what she had done wrong.

Her manager would only say that he needed to conduct a disciplinary investigation and would be in touch.

Just over a week later Sandra was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing. She was warned that if proven the allegations of unacceptable behaviour towards customers and colleagues may constitute gross misconduct and lead to her dismissal.

This was not the first time in her working career that Sandra found herself in a position where she was facing the threat of dismissal. She had previously contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help.

On that occasion, with a different employer, Sandra was unfairly selected for redundancy. Our representative was able to demonstrate the process was unfair and help her to negotiate a settlement agreement on that occasion.

So when Sandra once again found herself facing the threat of dismissal, she knew exactly where to turn for help.

Sandra met with our representative and provided him with the limited evidence to support the allegations made against her.

The main evidence came from a male colleague. He claimed numerous customers had complained to him about Sandra’s attitude and use of foul language, and also that she had been verbally abusive to him.

There was some history between Sandra and her colleague. She submitted a written complaint to the manager following his inappropriate behaviour at the company Christmas party.

He was verbally warned about his future conduct by bosses. In the months since the event he admitted he had deliberately ignored Sandra and not spoken to her.

This was up until the point that she confronted him after comments he had made about her appearance on social media. Following an expletive-laden verbal rant she told him to clear off in very blunt terms.

There were no witnesses, but two members of staff provided witness statements describing how upset the male member of staff was after the incident.

Prior to the disciplinary hearing our representative will request from an employer any information that may help an employee’s case.

He requested copies of any customer complaints made against Sandra, and the company confirmed it did not have a ‘formal record’ of any complaints. At the hearing our representative argued this allegation should be discarded as there was no evidence to support it.

He argued a failure to provide sufficient details to support the allegation denied Sandra a reasonable opportunity to prepare a response and it was a breach of the ACAS Code of Practice.

Our representative asserted the male colleague provoked Sandra. A screenshot of his Facebook comment referred to the fact  Sandra had gained weight and he no longer found her physically attractive and would not go anywhere near her.

Our representative maintained there was severe provocation in that comment, which was in keeping with his inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas party. Despite Sandra putting her previous complaint in writing, it was not formally dealt with in accordance with company policy.

In addition to this it was pointed out that the colleague’s admission in his witness statement that he deliberately ignores Sandra can be considered as bullying, and she therefore had legitimate grounds for a formal grievance.

It was asserted that due to the lack of evidence and mitigating factors and remorse expressed by Sandra that she should be cleared of any wrongdoing. The company eventually agreed and it vowed to deal with ‘any matters arising from the case’.

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