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Case Studies

Case Studies

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Unexpected email evidence that led to what was a predictable disciplinary outcome

Published 02 August 2023

It is fair to say that if you need the help of one of our representatives with a work-related matter something has gone terribly wrong – and in Jordan’s case something went badly wrong.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Jordan faced a fight to save his job after raising a grievance which was upheld.

He submitted a grievance because he, understandably, felt aggrieved after discovering he had been underpaid.

Attempts to rectify the situation informally proved unsuccessful and Jordan believed he was treated dismissively.

The flood risk and drainage consultant’s claim for an unlawful deduction of wages was found to be proven.

In support of his  grievance he provided various email correspondence, and the problem for Jordan was nestled in amongst those messages.

In one email he wrote something that was less than complimentary about his male boss.

Jordan had felt his manager was unconcerned about his claim and considered it an unwelcome inconvenience.

So in an email that Jordan sent to a colleague he referred to the fact his boss could be considered underweight, claimed he was useless, questioned his intellect and used an highly offensive term.

The grievance investigator who spotted the message in the grievance evidence flagged it as a concern.

It led to Jordan facing an allegation of using inappropriate and abusive language about a colleague.

He was originally suspended from work, before the decision was reviewed and he was later invited to return to work until the matter was resolved.

Jordan did apologise immediately when first made aware of the concern and said it was written out of frustration.

He did explain that he recognised it was wrong, but insisted it was in keeping with the workplace culture, and said he had been called much worse - including by his manager.

When Jordan contacted our Employee Support Centre for help he insisted he was being treated unfairly.

Our representative agreed and while he could understand the concern the employer had, felt the action being taken was an overreaction.

Prior to Jordan speaking to our representative his fear was he would be dismissed and that even though it would be an unfair dismissal there would be nothing he could do.

That fear was allayed when he received the letter inviting him to a disciplinary hearing. It said if proven the maximum sanction could be a final written warning for a breach of the dignity at work policy.

Our representative was keen to learn more about the workplace culture described by Jordan and about interactions between colleagues.

Jordan produced messages from a work WhatsApp group. It included a message of great significance from his manager, also a member of the group.

That message was sent after the manager’s football team beat the club Jordan, who was born in Wales, supports.

The taunting text included a couple of expletives and reference to an insulting stereotype about Welshmen.

Extracts of WhatsApp messages were presented to the disciplinary hearing chair in support of Jordan’s case

Our representative told the hearing as the message from the manager was insulting and referred to Jordan’s nationality, it could be considered to amount to discrimination because of his race.

It was explained Jordan did not wish to pursue the matter and was only highlighting it to put what he wrote into context, given as his manager should lead by example.

Our representative maintained that as there appeared an established workplace culture of insults and abusive language in interactions, it would be grossly unfair to discipline Jordan in any formal way.

He encouraged the employer to address any concerns it had by reminding employees what is and is not acceptable and by providing them with appropriate advice.

Our representative was stopped by the chair of the disciplinary hearing before he could finish presenting Jordan’s case.

The chair said she had listened carefully to what had been said, agreed with it and that no action would be taken against Jordan.

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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. 

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