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Unfair disciplinary action against me

Published 04 December 2019

The hard work needed to correct a poor disciplinary performance by a manager

For an employee facing disciplinary action and the threat of dismissal it can sometimes be a huge relief to get a formal warning and keep your job.

But this was not the case for business consultant Georgina when she was issued with a final written warning for what was said to be serious performance concerns.

The warning was eventually overturned with the help of our representative after Georgina submitted a successful disciplinary appeal and went through the disciplinary appeals process.

Georgina, who had worked for her employer for seven years, faced a single allegation of unsatisfactory performance

She felt that at the disciplinary hearing her explanations were not listened to and treated dismissively. She later said it was as if the decision had already been made.

Georgina was devastated and the experience left her feeling forlorn, helpless and questioning herself. 

She contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre and acquired the help of one of our representatives for her appeal.

Georgina had long complained about her excessive workload. The concerns were documented in one-to-one meetings and performance reviews. Her manager had promised but failed to address the issue.

It was during a particularly demanding time at work that Georgina accidently uploaded some documents to the wrong part of the computer system. It led to a complaint from a client.

When spoken to by her manager Georgina admitted her mistake and blamed her workload and stress. The manager further criticised Georgina’s work claiming it had been a concern for a long time.

He claimed she had been fully supported, so he had to take disciplinary action given the seriousness of the incident. Georgina protested, said colleagues had made the same mistake and no action had been taken against them and she was being singled out.

Her manager insisted that she was not being treated differently, but said if Georgina felt that way she should raise a formal grievance.

After discussing it with a colleague Georgina opted not to do so because she feared it would make matters worse. She was later invited to attend a disciplinary hearing and warned that dismissal was a potential outcome.

The evidence to support the allegation of unsatisfactory performance was made up of evidence entirely produced by her manager. He also chaired the disciplinary hearing.

Georgina exercised her right to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing and took a colleague with her. At the hearing the manager incorrectly informed Georgina’s companion that she was not allowed to speak at any stage during the hearing. He warned that if she did so he would ask her to leave.

The manager considered the allegation proven and issued Georgina with a final written warning.

Prior to the appeal hearing, which was chaired by a different manager, our representative requested and collated information to support Georgina’s appeal. It included the company’s performance management policy, copies of one-to-one meetings and performance reviews and emails in which Georgina raised concerns about her workload.

The information was used to demonstrate that any concerns about Georgina’s performance had not been addressed in line with company policy, which included a series of warnings and reviews before formal action is taken.

The appeal hearing was told about the significant mitigation regarding Georgina’s excessive workload that undoubtedly impacted negatively on her performance and was known about, but never addressed.

The potential conflict of interests in the same manager investigating and then hearing the disciplinary case was highlighted. This was used to demonstrate the process was not fair and that the chair could not be considered impartial, a basic requirement of the disciplinary process. The company had the resources to ensure different managers conducted different parts of the process.

The instruction to Georgina’s companion not to speak during the disciplinary hearing and the claim other employees had not been disciplined after making the same mistake,  was presented to support the argument that the disciplinary process was unfair.

The appeal proved successful and the warning was overturned. Things got better for Georgina, after getting the appeal outcome, her team was informed that they had a new manager.

 

“A reputation built on success”

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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