There is a very good reason why there is a well-known saying that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It describes how a build-up of incidents or actions causes an unpredictably large and sudden reaction, because of the cumulative effect those incidents and actions.
Justine had worked at a hotel for nearly six years when she was notified to attend a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of abandoning her duty without notification.
For Justine who protested her innocence it was like history, or rather a horrible nightmare, repeating itself all over again.
She was dismissed from a previous job, but submitted what was a successful claim for unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.
So, when she was informed disciplinary action would be taken against her bad memories came flooding back.
Justine feared the worse and after seeking help from a friend she was urged to contact the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre.
The allegation against Justine arose after she attended work when she felt unwell. She sent a text to her manager prior to the start of her shift to say she was ill.
The manager replied and said she had to work because he had no cover, and he added that she would be ok.
When Justine arrived at work colleagues expressed concern that she did not look well.
Justine was suffering with stomach pains, headaches and felt weak. About halfway through her shift when she went to the toilet to be sick she was comforted by a female colleague who advised her to go home.
Justine went to her manager’s office to notify him she needed to go home. He was not there and she asked her colleague to tell him. Justine then left work and was off ill for five days.
When she returned Justine was summoned to her manager’s office and informed he had conducted a disciplinary investigation because she had left work without permission.
Justine insisted that she had asked her colleague to tell him, but he claimed he had not been informed. The manger told Justine she was suspended from work.
When Justine spoke to our representative she explained that she had a strained relationship with her manager.
This followed her rejecting his unwanted advances at the Christmas party after which his behaviour towards her changed.
After the party he sent her a number of inappropriate images which she ignored and in work he would comment on well her uniform fitted her. When Justine made it clear she was unhappy and uncomfortable with his behaviour he stopped.
However, he started to ignore her in work, put her down on the rota to work every weekend, openly criticised her work in front on colleagues and refused her request for leave to allow her to attend an important family occasion.
Justine believed the disciplinary action was the latest act of retribution, and she had finally had enough of it.
Based on what Justine told him, our representative raised a formal grievance on her behalf. He asked for the disciplinary hearing to be postponed until the grievance was resolved.
The company refused and insisted both cases would be heard on the same day.
At the grievance hearing our representative explained the case based on what Justine had told him, presented the evidence she had along with information he had requested from the company that could be used to support the grievance. Details of witnesses who could support certain allegations were also provided.
At the subsequent disciplinary hearing our representative argued the allegation was malicious, unsubstantiated and the latest act of payback from the manager for Justine rejecting his advances.
Our representative also provided a statement from the colleague confirming she had informed the manager that Justine was unwell and had gone home.
The following week Justine was notified that the disciplinary allegation had been dismissed. Justine’s grievance outcome upheld most of the points of her grievance.
The manager was later suspended from work and although what happened to him was never officially confirmed, he never returned.
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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