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When a disciplinary process is just not cricket

Published 06 February 2020

Kevin had good intentions when he took part in a charity event with his employer - but it was an act of goodwill that had unexpected and unwelcome consequences.

The experienced, fundraising retail assistant, for a national fashion retailer, played in a cricket tournament to raise money for a good cause.

Little did Kevin know that it would result in him making a call to the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre to ensure he was not caught out by an unjustified disciplinary process.

Cricket has a long-held reputation as the ‘gentlemen’s game’. There is also a fairly well-known phrase ‘it's just not cricket’, which is used in to say that something is unfair or dishonest. Despite this image, the players can indulge in what is known as sledging – an attempt to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating an opposing player.

While Kevin was bowling he exchanged verbal insults with the opposing batsmen, who worked for the same company but in a different location.

Kevin returned to work a couple of days later. A regional manager visited his store and called him to the office to have a word about the match.

She informed Kevin a written complaint had been made against him by the batsman and it was being treated as a formal grievance

The complaint said Kevin was the aggressor, was abusive and deliberately tried to injure the batsman with his bowling. It also included the claim that in the bar afterwards Kevin had threatened to smash a pint glass in his face.

Kevin insisted that he only responded to extreme provocation during the match and did not make any such threat. He was told it would be looked at during the disciplinary investigation

Kevin provided the names of a number of colleagues who were playing and said they could support the fact he did not make a threat in the bar and that he was not to blame for what occurred during the match.

The manager said she could do nothing about it at that time. She informed Kevin that he was suspended from work.

Kevin had an exemplary disciplinary record in the nine years that he had worked for the company. He had no idea what to expect but he was determined to clear his name.

He was invited to a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of using foul and abusive language and acting in a threatening manner.

The evidence provided to support the allegation was a copy of the written complaint and an email from the other batsman who was on the pitch at the time, which referred only to what allegedly occurred during the match. There were no statements to support the allegation that Kevin made a threat in the bar.

Prior to the disciplinary hearing our representative requested that a number of Kevin’s colleagues who were playing and also present in the bar attend the hearing as witnesses in accordance with section 12 of the ACAS Code of Practice.

At the disciplinary hearing those witnesses confirmed that Kevin responded to constant abuse that was directed at him. They also confirmed that he did not make the alleged threat in the bar.

Our representative told the hearing that Kevin regretted getting involved in the verbal exchange during the match, but maintained it is a part of the game.

Details of Kevin’s previous charitable endeavours and work record were also presented to the disciplinary hearing chair as evidence that the allegation was completely out of character.

Concerns were raised about the process. The company had not followed its own grievance procedure and statements from the complainant and the witness supporting the complaint had simply been accepted as fact and not questioned.

It was explained Kevin had taken learning from the incident, wished to work with the company to address any concerns it had arising from the incident and he was willing to meet with the batsman to clear up what occurred.

The hearing was adjourned for just over half-an-hour after which Kevin was informed the allegation against him was dismissed.

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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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