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Unhappy manager creates disciplinary problem

Published 03 November 2021

Ill health can severely impact on how an employee performs their duties - and in some cases the reaction of an employer can be a shock.

IT consultant Giles had suffered for some considerable time with the symptoms of what felt like a mystery illness before being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

The condition can be considered a disability in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

Giles’s attendance at work and his performance had caused his employer serious concern before he was given a diagnosis.

In a bid to then support Giles, the company implemented a reasonable adjustment which allowed him to work from home and start work later than his colleagues.

But when a new manager took over, she was quick to let her displeasure with the arrangement be known.

During a performance appraisal with Giles his new boss quizzed him about when he was planning on returning to the office.

She quipped how fortunate he was, because everyone would love to be lucky enough to have a lie in every day, sit at home in their pyjamas enjoying daytime TV when they should be working.

Giles, who had worked for the company for six years, was upset by the comment, but brushed it off.

He was later made aware that his manager had been ‘digging for dirt’. She had quizzed other employees about their thoughts on Giles working from home and problems it caused.

She also continued to make sarcastic and hurtful comments directly to Giles. He also believed his manager was unduly critical of his work and performance.

It left Giles feeling bullied and intimidated. His health suffered and work-related treatment exacerbated the symptoms of his disability. As a result Giles submitted a formal grievance against his manager.

He was later invited to a formal grievance hearing. His grievance was heard, investigated and rejected by his employer, as was the subsequent grievance appeal.

A short time later Giles was invited to what was said to be a ‘catch up meeting’ with his manager.

At the meeting Giles was informed there had been a number of complaints from clients about his work.

He was certainly aware of one complaint from a client, which had been resolved. Giles queried what other complaints had been made, but his manager was not forthcoming with the information.

However, she did say that Giles working from home was becoming a major problem and it will have to be reviewed.

Giles was later invited to a disciplinary hearing. The allegation was that there were a number of client complaints that could damage the reputation of the business and cause clients to lose trust in the company.

The only evidence provided to support the allegation was of the one client complaint that had been resolved.

Giles contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help. It was clear Giles had grounds for a grievance for discrimination,  but he did not want to raise another one.

At the disciplinary hearing our representative asserted the disciplinary process was unfair and the treatment of Giles amounted to disability discrimination.

He told the hearing there was no evidence of any client complaints, apart from one that had been dealt with and it was therefore concluded.

Our representative said there was evidence of disability discrimination. It was in the fact a reasonable adjustment put in place  to support Giles was being unfairly used against him.

There was a lengthy discussion around Giles’s health, his treatment by his manager and issues that had not properly been resolved following the grievance.

Giles wanted to be cleared of the allegation, to continue working from home until his health improved and change manager.

Following the hearing Giles was delighted to be informed he had been cleared of the allegation. His working from home arrangement remained in place and his line manager was changed.

A short time later Giles heard his previous manager had left the business. Although there were rumours it was to do with his case, it was never confirmed.

 

 

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