For an innocent employee being wrongly accused of any type of allegation can be a distressing nightmare.
Imagine then Fiona’s horror when she was falsely accused by her bosses of being a racist.
The middle-aged, mother of two was the main breadwinner in her household, had long-standing financial commitments and losing her job would have devastating consequences.
Fiona, a housing surveyor for eight years, visited a female tenant’s home to assess work required. She had been to the West Yorkshire property previously, and this time after general chit-chat and discussion about the work to be carried out left the property.
One week later Fiona was unexpectedly summoned to her manager's office, told she was being suspended and informed a complaint of racism had been made against her.
When Fiona was later invited to attend an investigation meeting, she believed it would all be cleared up. It emerged the tenant had sent a handwritten letter in which she made an allegation that Fiona had made a derogatory comment about people of African origin. Both the tenant and Fiona are of British origin.
Fiona vehemently denied the allegation. As the investigation meeting is to establish the facts in order to decide if an employer should instigate disciplinary action, and it was Fiona’s word against that of the tenant, she was confident it would be the end of the matter.
However, horrified Fiona later received a letter inviting her to attend a disciplinary hearing. The letter warned that if proven the allegation is likely to amount to gross misconduct and result in dismissal.
Desperate Fiona contacted Castle Associates for help, met with our representative prior to the hearing and provided her with the evidence. The only evidence in support of the allegation was the handwritten letter of complaint.
The employer’s disciplinary policy stated that it would not take disciplinary action until a thorough investigation has been undertaken.
Our representative argued that the investigation was not thorough as the complaint had been accepted as fact and no attempt was ever made to question or challenge it - even after Fiona had given her account at the investigation meeting.
Our representative highlighted a number of factors in support of Fiona’s case including: that the allegation was not corroborated; the letter made reference to previous work the tenant was unhappy with and she wrongly blamed Fiona; a recent appraisal praised Fiona for treating customers with respect; her previous work with diverse communities; and exemplary work and disciplinary record.
The allegation was dismissed.