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The ugly side of the disciplinary process with a good looking ending

Published 14 August 2019

The ugly side of the disciplinary process with a good looking ending


We all know by now that saying the wrong thing inside or outside of work can land us in big trouble.


When cosmetic clinic worker Billie bumped into a client while out shopping the repercussions of that conversation were unexpected and shocking.


During the chat the woman, who was with another female, spoke openly and bluntly about procedures she had undergone. She asked Billie for advice on others she was thinking of having.


Billie felt uncomfortable with the conversation and advised the woman that it was best to come into the clinic to have a proper chat. The woman made a joke about Billie being moody and said she would see her the following week. She did not come in the following week and Billie did not see her again.


Little did Billie know that, that conversation would prove significant when the clinic later started a redundancy consultation process.


Billie had worked at the clinic for about 10 years and did not want to take redundancy. Some colleagues volunteered for redundancy, but the clinic was one short of the number of jobs it wished to cut.


When the owner of the clinic approached Billie at work one morning and invited her to the office to meet with him and an external HR advisor, she was left stunned by what followed.


The owner said he wished to have an off the record conversation, known as a Section 111A meeting, with Billie. It was explained what this meant, and Billie was shocked.


The owner then produced a complaint from the client that Billie had spoken to while out shopping. It was an email from two months earlier. It accused Billie of breaching confidentiality by discussing procedures the woman had undergone in front of her friend, who was unaware, and of being rude and obnoxious. The woman vowed not to return to the clinic unless offered free treatment as an apology.


Billie was told she should accept redundancy, and the statutory redundancy payment. She was advised that if she did not do so she would be dismissed and leave with nothing. Billie was given until the following morning to make up her mind.


She rejected the offer there and then. Billie was informed that she was suspended from work. She was later invited to an investigation meeting.


At the investigation meeting, to establish the facts of the case, the company went through the complaint. Billie denied any wrongdoing and explained what she said.


Billie contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre when she was then invited to attend a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of breaching client confidentiality.


By this stage Billie was completely demoralised and she had loss all trust and confidence in her employer. When Billie met with our representative she explained that she did not want to return to work at the clinic.


After speaking to Billie our representative explained that he felt she had been treated unfairly. He informed her that if she did not wish to return negotiating a settlement agreement may be her best option. Billie agreed.


With Billie’s desired outcome in mind our representative raised a formal grievance on her behalf. It was on the grounds of improper behaviour during the off the record meeting in which Billie was put under undue pressure to accept redundancy or be dismissed.


The employer arranged a grievance hearing. At start of the meeting it again initiated an off the record conversation. It was agreed by both parties that a settlement agreement was the best way to resolve the matter.


Our representative continued negotiations after the meeting. Eventually a settlement agreement was reached, which included a five-figure tax free payment to Billie.


Billie quickly secured a job with a different cosmetic clinic in another town, and on a better salary.

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For free 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

A reputation built on success

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. 

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