Case Studies

Case Studies

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When challenging unfair treatment pays off in an unexpected way

Published 31 July 2018

After Ali refused to change his working hours the response from his bosses indicated that his time was up with his employer.
Ali was part of a Tupe transfer when the large manufacturing company he was working for was sold to new owners.
His hours of work had been agreed with the previous management to enable him to care for his elderly and disabled father.
Within weeks of the business changing hands he was called into his new manager’s office and told he had to change his hours, or his employment with the company would be reviewed.
Ali felt aggrieved and he contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for advice.
He was advised to raise a formal grievance with his employer on the grounds of discrimination; this was for discrimination by association, and breach of TUPE regulations.
A date was set for a grievance hearing. However, prior to the hearing the company chose to resolve the grievance informally. It said Ali could continue working the same hours.
Five days later Ali was summoned to his manager’ office and asked about a phone conversation he had the day before while on a break. It was alleged that during the call Ali spoke in Urdu and used an offensive term to describe his co-workers.
Ali denied the allegation and explained the conversation was with his mother, who doesn’t speak good English, and it was about building work being done to her home.

He was told the allegation was serious and then encouraged to resign. Ali refused to resign and was then suspended from work.

Ali was later invited to attend a disciplinary investigation meeting. He felt brow beaten during it. The investigating officer insisted three colleagues had heard him use what was now said to be a racist phrase about his co-workers.
Following that meeting Ali was notified that he was required to attend a formal disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of racism.

The evidence to support the allegation included a copy of the company’s equal opportunities policy and just one statement, which was undated and unsigned.
The witness statement claimed Ali was always speaking Urdu in work which upset his colleagues. It added that he should not have the job if he cannot speak English.

Shocked Ali again contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre help.
After discussing the case with our representative Ali raised another grievance. The grounds included that the witness statement contained a racist slur and he was being denied a fair disciplinary hearing as the only statement was anonymous, which denied him an opportunity to ask questions of the witness.

Ali wanted to remain in work because he had significant financial commitments, but he had started looking for a new job and had been shortlisted for a vacancy. However, he could not leave until he knew if he had secured that position.
The company said it would hear both the grievance and disciplinary cases on the same day.
At the grievance hearing our representative asserted that the witness statement was highly offensive and breached the company equal opportunities policy. She also argued that deliberately withholding the name of the only witness was unfair as the identity of the individual undermines Ali’s right to challenge properly the evidence, which was crucial given there was no other corroborating evidence.

Our representative also highlighted that the timing of the allegation appeared to be more than a coincidence, coming so quickly after Ali’s first grievance was resolved.

At the end of the grievance hearing, the chair asked to have a protected conversation under section 111A of the Employment Rights Act with Ali and our representative.

During this conversation Ali was made a financial offer as part of an exit package, which left him shocked – it was more than what he would have asked for.

Ali was given time to consider the settlement proposal. When he learned the following day that he had landed the job he had been shortlisted for, Ali gleefully accepted the settlement offer.


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